Digital View From the Driver's Seat


Kurt Busch competed in the Bojangles' Southern 500 with the new digital dash. (Photo: Getty Images)



The view behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car will have a new look in 2016 as a digital dashboard will be implemented full-time.

The new technology will replace analog gauges and feature 16 preset screens which the teams have the opportunity to customize - displaying digital readouts of RPM, water temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, water pressure, fuel pressure and voltage.

"When you look at motor sports around the world, our cockpit is tame compared to an F1 steering wheel or even the sports car stuff I have driven," said Jimmie Johnson. "They have more knobs and switches than I know what to do with. I like to see technology come in. Given the demographic of younger race fans and the technology-driven world we live in, it’s relevant to give us these tools and the upgraded technology."

Johnson got the feel from the driver's seat when he sat in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car that was updated with the new dashboard.

"It's been a high priority for us to get the layout right and implement it into the four cars," Johnson said. "I'm familiar with it. As time goes on and the teams all have an adequate allotment of the dashes, over time they'll continue to open up for options to use. Right now, it's set up pretty basic."

A number of drivers already competed with the new dashboard during the 2015 season including Kurt Busch, who had it in his No. 41 Stewart-Hass Racing Chevrolet for the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

"I didn’t feel confident to know that I wasn’t speeding on pit road," Busch said. "I would love for us to go to a speed limiter, which would be a button we press and keep cars at a certain speed on pit road. That way, we're not staring at the dash. We're looking ahead at crew members jumping over the wall, where cars are turning in and turning out."

Johnson also has his wish list of options.

"I'm not sure how far NASCAR will take it, but we would love to have lap times in the car," Johnson said. "We could have a page just for pit road, take your tach, spread the hash marks on the tach mark, and fine-tune and nail an exact pit-road speed. There are infinite options. It depends on what NASCAR will allow us to use and put up."

Brian Scott, who will drive the No. 9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2016, ran the dash at Chicagoland Speedway with Circle Sport Racing and adjusted the personalization the next time he competed with it at Kansas Speedway, where he finished 12th.

"It's futuristic and neat," Scott said, "bringing a different element to the drivers with a different way to look at information. I didn't like the way I had it configured at Chicagoland Speedway, especially maintaining speed on pit road. It's an adjustment and it'll take some time to perfect."

While the digital dash will help drivers and teams with a more precise read-out and its potential number of options and access to data, it could also enhance the fan experience.

"It's something for fans to grasp - to see from the in-car-camera side. Or is there going to be more channels of distribution that NASCAR is going to take from our dash and distribute to our fans?" Busch said. "I hope they do."

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