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NASCAR May Not Increase Horsepower…Here’s Why

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

The NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix was not well-received by the fans, and many drivers did not enjoy the race either. The solution amongst everyone seemed to be universal, add more horsepower. It’s been the same song and dance for the past two years with the Next-Gen car, but NASCAR may have a stronger leg to stand on than in the past to keep horsepower as is…for now.

  • The Next-Gen Short Track Package has been the subject of much scrutiny since the car debuted in 2022. NASCAR has taken multiple swings, particularly with aerodynamics to help improve the racing product on short tracks and road courses. However, horsepower is one area NASCAR has refused to touch.
  • Recent developments have potentially given NASCAR more reason to keep horsepower as-is. Will it be enough actually to keep the Cup Series cars capped at 670 horsepower?
  • Fans are begging NASCAR to increase horsepower. NASCAR has seemingly tried everything, but, nothing seems to have worked so far.

Both Sides of the Horsepower Debate

Both parties have dug their heels in on this topic, and many of the things said both at Phoenix and afterward are not new concepts. Denny Hamlin discussed how horsepower would help the short-track package, and he even explained why increasing horsepower would not be a big hangup to engine race teams. Essentially, all race teams would have to do is take the tapered spacer off of the engine, and that’s it. For a more in-depth analysis of his comments, read the article below.

As far as how much horsepower would help, that’s up for debate. Tyler Reddick joined “Door, Bumper, Clear” in December, and he explained that it would likely take more than 1000 horsepower to make. His full comments can be heard below.

So, what is it that is keeping NASCAR from increasing horsepower? The primary reason is costs for the race teams as Steve Phelps explained in a webinar back in November. The more horsepower used, the quicker that engines will wear out.

Another reason is the potential addition of a new manufacturer. Brad MOran, the Managing Director of the NASCAR Cup Series, said that, while all options are on the table, the current horsepower number is, “Where we want to try to get, potentially, a new manufacturer interested.” Well, well, well, a new manufacturer is reportedly considering joining NASCAR.

The Added Wrench of Honda

Honda joining NASCAR rumors have continued to swirl for the past few months. Steve Phelps openly admitted before the 2024 Daytona 500 that NASCAR is currently talking with a potential new OEM, but he did not specifically mention Honda. It has become so apparent that NASCAR’s Chief Racing Development Officer, John Probst, opened up about the process of adding a new manufacturer on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

Obviously, there is something Honda likes about NASCAR if they are this interested in joining. Is 670 horsepower one of those dealbreakers? We don’t know for sure, but, NASCAR now has a reason to stay at 670.

If a new manufacturer comes in, and 670 horsepower is one of the reasons why they joined, then NASCAR is vindicated in keeping horsepower as is. NASCAR now has a leg to stand on, but, will it be enough to keep up the status quo?

At What Point Does NASCAR Just Go For It?

The bottom line is that NASCAR must keep its on-track product as entertaining as possible. They have tried everything they can with aerodynamics, so, if bumping horsepower to 750 is as simple as taking off a tapered spacer, why not just go for it?

At least one manufacturer has admitted they are willing to budge on horsepower. David Wilson of Toyota Racing Development explained this to Jeff Gluck of The Athletic. However, Wilson did also admit that the problem is very complicated. For more information, read the article below.

If a manufacturer is open to increasing horsepower, then using the concept of adding Honda joining as a crutch to keep horsepower at 670 may not work. At the end of the day, short-track racing is part of what makes NASCAR unique, and NASCAR needs to make the current product better.

NASCAR may have an easier time selling not increasing horsepower if Honda joins the sport, but, how long can NASCAR go without making the increase?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts