Motorsport News

So Much for Next Gen Parity

2024 Cup COTA William Byron, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, burnout II (Credit: NKP)

Remember when the Next Gen car first rolled out and it seemed like almost anyone in the NASCAR Cup Series field could pop up and win a race?

Those days appear to be behind us.

In 2022, the first year of the Next Gen car, there were 19 different winners across nine different organizations. The first six races alone had six different victors from four teams.

In 2023, parity kind of remained the same. Last year featured 15 different winners from 10 teams. So there were less drivers triumphing, but one more team won. The opening six races had five victors from five different teams.

Now the parity is all but gone. There have been five different winners through the first six races once again, but they have come from just three teams.

And mega-teams Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are clearly leading the charge, earning five of those six races. The only exception is Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is a drafting track where almost anyone can come out ahead. Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez won that race. JGR even took the checkered flag in the non-points-paying Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum via Denny Hamlin.

Despite having a car with parts supplied by outside vendors and the competition being closer than ever, Hendrick and Gibbs have still risen to the top. Many said when the Next Gen first came out that if you gave these big teams a few years with it, they would separate themselves from the pack once again, and that appears to have come to fruition.

Even if bad luck struck some of the winners of these races, those two teams still would’ve scored the majority of the races. Had the caution come out just a smidge later in the Daytona 500, Hendrick still wins with Alex Bowman. Had Hamlin had a tire go down late at Bristol Motor Speedway, Gibbs’ Martin Truex Jr. still gets the organization the win. Last week, had William Byron had a problem, JGR wins with Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs running behind him.

The only other team that could’ve won outside of Atlanta was 23XI Racing with Tyler Reddick, who nearly beat Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This weekend, Cup heads to Richmond Raceway, where the most recent winner is RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher. But HMS and JGR have won every spring race at Richmond since 2018 (there was no spring race there in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Based on what we’ve seen on the short tracks so far this year, it wouldn’t be surprising at all…

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