With the debut of NASCAR's next-generation race car just around the corner, series executives are already contemplating yet another leap forward for stock car racing: electrification.
In an interview with TechCrunch, NASCAR SVP John Probst said that hybrid powertrains could come to the sport as early as 2022, allowing the series time to finalize rules for its new gasoline-powered race car before tackling a new engine setup.
The earliest on-track implementation would probably be used for road courses (such as Sonoma or Watkins Glen) and shorter speedways, but it would eventually spread to larger ovals.
"We have to research all of this, but I think there are also some deployment options for intermediates and our speedways that can be explored," Probst said.
NASCAR's larger oval tracks would be poor initial candidates for hybrid technology as it is implemented in international road-racing series due to limited braking that occurs during a typical race.
"Braking is typically used as a mechanism to get the power back into the batteries," Probst said.
The focus of electrification would be improved performance, rather than fuel efficiency. While other series have touted the fuel savings of hybridization, it is frequently presented to race fans as a power-boosting feature.
While details of the new car have proven scarce, prototype photos reveal a few hints as to what's in store. Five-lug wheels on the prototype lead us to believe that rumors of a center-locking configuration were incorrect, for example. It also sports new hood vents and larger wheels.
NASCAR's new stock car will debut at the Daytona 500 series opener in February 2021.