Erik Jones got behind the wheel of the NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen car this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The two-day test, which began on Wednesday, was the first for the car at a 1.5-mile speedway.
"I’ve never been a part of developing something new in any series," Jones said. "So to be the first guy in it on a mile-and-a-half has been cool. It’s been a learning experience for everybody, but it’s been fun. I think we’ve come a long way in a short time here. I think NASCAR’s learned a lot, I know I’ve learned a lot, and there will be a lot of cool stuff going forward. It’s definitely been cool to be a part of."
This week marked the third time the car has been on track following tests last fall at Richmond Raceway and Phoenix Raceway with drivers Austin Dillon and Joey Logano, respectively.
"Richmond seemed to be more of a systems check than anything. Phoenix was more development and working getting the car better and better and improving things," Jones said. "We started here with sort of a baseline systems check for a mile-and-a-half track to get a good base of what they’re going to work on over the next few months, and what direction to go. I think it’s been very valuable so far."
Jones was also able to test a sequential shifter, which he talked about in a video on Twitter, and practiced a restart at the end of the day on Wednesday.
"The shifting has been fun, it’s been different," Jones said. "I’ve never done anything other than normal H-pattern shifting in my career. You can bang right through the gears. It was fun learning about that and how you can push that gear box. That really gets you excited for the road courses and what it’s going to be capable of there."
John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, gave an update on the next steps for the development of the car following Homestead.
"We’ve actually started the manufacturing of the Phase 3 prototype which will take all of the lessons learned from the tests we’ve previously had," Probst said. "Once that is built, we’ll probably start using this car as a ‘second car’ to start simulating cars in traffic to see what we can learn from that.
"This car has one more test for us – in Fontana immediately following the race weekend (Monday and Tuesday). There are some logistical reasons that make sense for us to stay and test. But it’s also important to get some rubbered in conditions of what it’s like in a race. We want to replicate that as best as we can so when we go back to race, there are no new lessons to learn.
"We still look forward to taking this to superspeedways and road courses, we have a lot to learn there as well. We’ll go back and iterate on what we have now, but we feel like we’re in a good spot."
Got some new wheels to show you… pic.twitter.com/XGdgZviRlK
– Erik Jones (@Erik_Jones) January 16, 2020