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The WORST Next-Gen Crashes and What They Showed About the Next-Gen Car

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Joshua Lipowski

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Ryan Preece’s crash on Saturday at Daytona was far from the only scary crash of the Next-Gen era. These crashes have had consequences, and some of them have pushed NASCAR to improve the safety of Next-Gen cars. What are the worst crashes in the Next-Gen era, and what came out of some of these crashes?

Kyle Busch and Ross Chastain: 2022 All-Star Race

This incident was one of the first major safety tests for the Next-Gen car as Kyle Busch cut a tire while leading the 2022 All-Star Race. He was run over from behind by Ross Chastain who collected Chase Elliott in the process. The crash was scary looking, but all drivers thankfully walked away okay.

Chris Buescher: 2022 Coca-Cola 600

In the 2022 Coca-Cola 600, Chris Buescher spun and hit a drain cover causing his car to flip and barrel roll. It was the first time a Next-Gen car flipped as a result of hitting something on the ground, but, thankfully, Buescher was okay following the incident

What the incident did do was prove that the tire tethers NASCAR installed on the Next-Gen car seemed to work. In previous crashes, tires would fly off of the car whenever there were big flips like this or even just hard hits into the wall. The Next-Gen car continued to have a fairly unblemished safety record, but that would not last forever.

Kurt Busch: 2022 M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 Qualifying

Drivers spoke out throughout the 2022 season about how the impacts felt with the Next-Gen car, and at Pocono, an impact had a dire consequence. Kurt Busch spun off of turn three during qualifying and backed the car into the wall. It seemed like a fairly normal crash, but that was the final time that Busch would step out of a race car.

He suffered a concussion, and that sent him down a recovery road which eventually ended his career. This began a chain of events that would cause some major changes to the Next-Gen car. Unfortunately, this was not the final injury caused by the Next-Gen car.

Alex Bowman and Cody Ware: 2022 Autotrader Echopark Automotive 500

The 2022 Texas Playoff race was one of the most infamous races of the season after not one but two drivers were injured during the race. First, Alex Bowman spun and backed his car into the outside wall, which gave him a concussion. That injury caused Bowman to miss five races.

As if that was not enough, Cody Ware also injured his ankle in a violent crash in turn four. This time, it was from a frontal impact.

This was another injury caused by the Next-Gen car, and NASCAR made some changes shortly thereafter. In the 2022 offseason, NASCAR made some changes to the rear clip of the Next-Gen car to soften the blow of some of these rear impacts. The results so far have been a bit mixed as Noah Gragson was injured with concussion-like symptoms at Gateway, but, no other major injuries other than that.

Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece: 2023 Geico 500

As NASCAR made changes to the rear clip, the front clip and passenger side door became a source of controversy. At Talladega, Ryan Preece t-boned Kyle Larson in a late crash, which opened a gaping hole in the passenger side of Larson’s car. Soon afterward, NASCAR went on to make some major changes.

NASCAR went on to make changes to reinforce the passenger side of the car, and they also made changes to the front clip to allow it to crush more. There were some major changes that probably played a major role in mitigating the risk of injury for Ryan Blaney at Daytona last weekend.

There have been plenty of major crashes with the Next-Gen car, but, lessons have been learned in the process. Hopefully, the cars will continue to get safer as time goes on.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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