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Behold NASCAR’s Cutting Edge Car Headed To Le Mans

NASCAR’s hot wheels just got a hell of a lot hotter.     

By Andrew Woodin
Rftc Garage 56 Car A general view of the NASCAR, IMSA, and Hendrick Motorsports press conference for the Garage 56 entry

Elegance. Sleekness. Power. This baby’s got it all.

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Showcasing a sexy aesthetic that would rev up a salivating Dominic Toretto straight into overdrive, NASCAR’s modified Next Gen Cup Series car it plans to enter in next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans racing event in France is not only one beast of a ride, it’s a masterwork of automotive engineering.

Starting with a foundation of a Chevy Next Gen Camaro ZL1, the car is lighter than this year’s Next Gen car, and specific alterations to the vehicle feature a revised front chin splitter and new rear spoiler that are intended to enhance the car’s aerodynamic profile for high-octane road racing. Additional updates come in the form of side panel “dive planes,” engineered to generate more downforce, as well as an innovative hybrid powertrain and a converted manual transmission that utilizes column-mounted paddle shifters instead of a center-mounted shifter.

Check it out below:

Entered via the prestigious Garage 56 program, tasked with pushing NASCAR technology forward, this shiny new toy will surely turn some heads during the fabled European racing event at Circuit de la Sarthe, despite not being eligible for any class victories. Built and run by league juggernaut Hendrick Motorsports, the proprietary car came together in a joint effort by Chevrolet, Goodyear and NASCAR and will mark the league’s return to the historic event for the first time in nearly 50 years.

RELATED: Jimmie Johnson Returns To NASCAR: What’s He Been Up To?

With the 2023 Cup Series schedule released, the French racing event directly conflicts with the June 9-11 weekend at Sonoma Raceway for Xfinity and Cup drivers, most likely rendering current competitive league racers ineligible, but that just may leave the door open for two of NASCAR’s most illustrious legends to return to the cockpit: four-time Cup Series victor Jeff Gordon and seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. No stranger to the IMSA and IndyCar racing, Johnson recently earned a podium finish in the Motul Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in October.

While nothing is confirmed, the two have been raised as possibilities to join German racing veteran Mike Rockenfeller, who won the Rolex 24 and 24 Hours of Le Mans overall titles in 2010.

Rockenfeller recently took the cutting-edge whip for a spin on the 3.27-mile-long track at Virginia International Raceway, clocking a time that was approximately 10 seconds faster than the 2022 Next Gen Cup Series car that was tested on the same track. Though its marriage of advanced technology and stock car engineering is exciting, Chad Knaus, VP of Competition for Hendrick Motorsports, noted during the test that the car’s still in a very early stage of development.

"Well, this is a first step and over the course of the next six months or so there’s going to be a huge amount of iterations," Knaus revealed. "We want to continue to try to push and make the car faster from a weight and performance standpoint.”

“Goodyear has done a really good job of starting to get some construction and compound combinations put together, and we’ll start to get that really rolled up into what the tire is going to be,” continued Knaus. “So [there’s] an awful lot of work from this point forward."

Calling all Autobots, meet your new competition – it’s more than meets the eye.

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