More than 20 NASCAR Cup Series teams from 14 different organizations took advantage of a NASCAR ’Next Gen’ car test earlier this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway while preparing for the track’s upcoming Dixie Vodka 400 premier series playoffs race on Sunday, Oct. 23.
The two-day test, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, also featured all 12 of the drivers who remain in the battle for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Fans got to witness the Tuesday practice for FREE from the grandstands. The Dixie Vodka 400 at the 1.5-mile venue will serve as the second race in the Round of 8, and if an eligible driver wins the event, he will automatically punch his ticket to the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway in November.
This year marks the first time since 2019 that Homestead-Miami Speedway, the historical South Florida venue, has been in NASCAR’s playoff mix. The Dixie Vodka 400 will showcase for the initial time the sleek new design and competition-focused ’Next Gen’ car that has produced a record 19 winners in the 29 races thus far in 2022.
“There’s a handful of places in the United States that the fans make me feel at home, and Homestead-Mami Speedway is one of them,” said Mexico native Daniel Suarez, one of the participants, who sits 11th in the standings with his Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet team, co-owned by Miami native Pit Bull and Justin Marks. “I always see a lot of Mexican flags in the grandstands here. It’s always fun to be here. It’s all about learning (this week) to see what the car can do at the bottom, the middle and the top of the track. This track is very tricky, so we are keeping data and learning.”
Joey Logano was the quickest of the drivers at 167.126 mph (32.311 seconds), followed by Brad Keselowski (167.033 mph), reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson (166.641 mph), Ryan Blaney (166.569 mph) while Toyota driver Denny Hamlin was fifth (166.441 mph). Logano also made the most laps of any driver – 316 – over the two days.
For Logano, who captured the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Homestead, being back at the track has extra meaning.
“I love this race track, one of my favorites,” admitted Logano, who pilots the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. “I have a lot of great memories here. The track has a lot of character and really races well…the cars move around a lot. This morning when we arrived (in Homestead) at the airport I remembered to that day in 2018 after we won the championship, loading up at the airport to fly home. It’s a special place.”
Organizations part of the test included: 23XI Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Kaulig Racing, Petty GMS Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Spire Motorsports, Stewart Haas Racing, Team Penske, Trackhouse Racing, Wood Brothers Racing
With the ’Next Gen’ car, NASCAR’s premier series has also seen five ’first-time’ winners in 2022. The new car was designed to incorporate elements in the body that better replicate the look and feel of a street car, emphasizing the foundations of early racing. Its technological advancements have allowed teams to maximize engine performance and intensify the competition aspect of racing.
Fans can catch the full-fledged competitive nature of the Next Gen car at the upcoming race weekend in the Dixie Vodka 400, which is set for a green flag start at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 23. Saturday (Oct. 22) kicks off with a doubleheader featuring the Baptist Health Cancer Care 200 (1:00 p.m. ET), the “last chance” race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Round of 8, followed by the Contender Boats 300 at 4:30 p.m. ET for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 8.
For more information regarding the race weekend, including 3-race ticket packages, camping, and hospitality, visit homesteadmiamispeedway.com or call (866) 409-RACE (7223).