Why Do NASCAR Cars Look Crooked/Skewed?

NASCAR cars look skewed and crooked when you watch them speed down the straightaway and into the corners. And if you watch closely, you will notice that they are skewed more at certain tracks and less at others, especially oval tracks. You might be asking why NASCAR cars look crooked and skewed. 

NASCAR cars looked skewed because teams wanted to maximize speed and reduce drag at oval tracks. The Next Gen cars are not intended to be skewed, but NASCAR allowed for some skewing. This new specification came following a rule change before the 2022 Daytona 500. 

Below, we will explore why NASCAR Next Gen cars are not supposed to be skewed. We will also explore the anatomy of both the older generation car designs and Next Gen cars, which will further explain why NASCAR found it necessary to skew the older cars more than the newer cars. 

Are NASCAR Next Gen Cars Skewed?

NASCAR Next Gen cars are slightly skewed, although not as much as those from past generations. Next Gen cars must be within 0-0.3 degrees of center before the race, and between -0.25 and 0.55 degrees after the race, and this rule came into effect in 2022.

In 2022, NASCAR rolled out its Next Gen cars. These rides looked different from those of the past, even when compared to the Gen 6 car. The wheels are 18 inches, which match that of their production counterparts, and their bodies also resemble what you would find in a dealership’s showroom. The engines contain 670 horsepower, and they contain increased downforce. 

The Next Gen cars have vented hoods, which removed the need for grille tape, as you may have noticed on the older designs. They also have a rearview camera and a 5-speed, sequential transmission. 

Placing them next to the Gen 6 and previous cars, you will notice stark differences throughout the cars’ bodies. And even the on-track product is intended to lean toward closer races in NASCAR’s attempt to bring excitement back to the sport. 

Also in previous generations, you may have noticed something else. The cars were not symmetrical. Instead, they contained a skewed body. But when you look at the Next Gen car, you will notice that it is not intended to be skewed like its predecessor, even if teams felt otherwise. 

Next Gen Cars Are Not Meant To Be Skewed

During practice for the 2022 Daytona 500, NASCAR teams were still running with a skewed setup. This had the body’s rear pointing left while the chassis pointed straight. However, NASCAR intended symmetrical flares for the Next Gen cars, and they initiated a rule change. 

This rule change pertained to the toe link slugs in the rear suspension. NASCAR required them to be centered, with a 0.00 to 0.30-degree pre-race tolerance and a post-race tolerance between -0.25 to 0.55 degrees. 

If you view videos of practice before the Daytona 500, you will see the extent to which teams were still trying to run with skewed cars until NASCAR implemented the rule change

Why Would NASCAR Cars Be Skewed?

NASCAR cars would be skewed as the slight off-center shape of the body would hide part of the rear spoiler from the oncoming airflow. This would allow the car to travel faster as it would experience less drag. The amount by which a NASCAR vehicle would be skewed depended on the track.

NASCAR’s Next Gen car changed a lot of things. Among them is that they wanted the cars to look as close to their production-line counterparts as possible. This would never be entirely possible since NASCAR cars require special tires, spoilers, and special fuel. They are also not built on production lines, but in shops. 

If you followed NASCAR throughout the decades, you also know they don’t like to change things unless they deem them to be necessary. One thing that changed little was the chassis, which still held components akin to that of 1950s-60s technology. 

Some of the technological aspects included truck arms attached to rear axles courtesy of the rear suspension with springs between the arm and chassis. However, these attachments came with no pivot points. They based this design on the Ford nine-inch axle.

NASCAR based the front suspension on GM trucks, most notably the S-10. However, they did not place shock dampers through the spring. Instead, you would find these on the truck arms. This allowed the chassis’ main frame rails to expand from front to rear, without interruptions. 

Purpose For Skewed Cars

All oval tracks, regardless of if they were short tracks, intermediate ovals, or superspeedways, had one common denominator: They all required cars to make left turns. And while steep banking helped the cars accomplish this endeavor with little braking and shifting, it wasn’t always enough. 

So, when NASCAR teams skewed their cars, they added a natural rotation on their axles. When you watched races with the Gen 6 cars and older, and even the Next Gen cars at Daytona practice, you saw at least a slight skew. 

However, with tracks that had little banking, like Pocono, you would possibly see more skew since the cars required more natural rotation. This reduced drag while increasing and maintaining a car’s speed. 

Customized Chassis

While NASCAR always limited how much teams could skew the cars, they allowed teams to customize the chassis for each unique track on the schedule. Each contained an asymmetrical shape depending on the type of oval teams were racing at for the weekend. 

Next Gen Changes

While NASCAR still stuck to its traditional roots with the Next Gen car, you saw major overhauls on the cars’ interior designed to create a better on-track product and more authentic-looking cars. 

Among its latest aesthetics includes dual A-arms with a coilover on its fully-independent suspension. You will find these on each corner of the car. Instead of a rear axle, a trans-axle sits in its place

A rack-and-pinion steering box replaced the Saginaw-style box, the latter of which featured toe links, a pitman arm, and a tie bar. This is a bit dated for such new cars, which prompted NASCAR to make the change to something most 21st-century production vehicles have. 

NASCAR Further Evens The Playing Field 

Older generations called for NASCAR teams to build their chassis in their garages. This wasn’t the case for Next-Gen. NASCAR instead outsourced the chassis from an approved supplier. This helped reduce overall costs for all teams, which was one of NASCAR’s goals for the Next Gen. 

It further allowed smaller teams a better chance to compete against those who regularly field between three and four cars. And most importantly, all of the new technologies described above were intended for NASCAR teams to lessen the skew and build symmetrical cars. 

NASCAR Reverse Skew Explained

You saw what they call the reverse skew in previous generations of cars and at the 2022 Daytona 500 practice before NASCAR implemented its rule change. When the cars traveled down the straightaway, they held a look where the rear pointed left while the chassis remained straight, which from the top, gave these cars a clockwise tilt. 

To create the lowest drag possible depending on the oval track (or triangular, in Pocono’s case) NASCAR was visiting, the skew would hide the right side of the rear spoiler. At superspeedways, the lower the drag, the better the performance. Which explains why teams tried this at Daytona. 

NASCAR’s Rule Change

When NASCAR issued its rule change for teams to minimize the skew, garages opened at 11 am and builders scrambled to retool the rear suspension under the latest specifications. When Wednesday rolled around, you would have noticed significantly less skew in the cars. This angle opposed the body, and it affected the rear wheel steer. Therefore, the change was also an adjustment for drivers.

And since drivers were used to skewed cars at most if not all oval tracks, 2022 would remain a learning curve for them and their teams under the new specifications. 

Final Thoughts

NASCAR cars look skewed because teams want to reduce the amount of drag on the cars. This changed with the Next Gen cars since NASCAR intended them to look like their road counterparts. When teams attempted to skew the Next Gen car, they issued an immediate rule change to prevent it.