Does the next-gen NASCAR car use a Corvette transaxle?

NASCAR has launched all-new Cup cars for the 2022 season. This Next Gen car may use the same old pushrod V8 engines, but it transfers power through an all-new transaxle. This front-engine rear transaxle configuration is the same one used in three generations of the Chevy Corvette. That said, the Next Gen Car transaxle is an exclusive unit built just for NASCAR.

What type of transmission is in a NASCAR car?

Next Gen NASCAR cars for the 2022 season use a transaxle unit, a transmission integrated into the rear axle. This unit is a sequential manual built by Xtrac.

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A front engine and rear transaxle layout is a common way to better balance the weight of a sports car's drivetrain. Automakers such as Bugatti began experimenting with this system in the 1930s. Today, sports cars built by companies such as Jaguar and Aston Martin still use this layout.

Several generations of Chevy Corvettes use the front-engine rear transaxle configuration. But the latest Corvette (C8) is a mid-engine car.

Next-generation NASCAR transaxle transmissions are a five-speed forward sequential manual unit. That's one gear higher than NASCAR's Generation 6 transmission. The transaxle is called the P1334 and each unit is built by racing supplier Xtrac.

Will Next Gen NASCAR have a clutch?

The NASCAR Next Generation car is a real three-pedal manual gearbox: it has a clutch. But the shifter moves slightly differently: it has a forward position for downshifting and a rear position for upshifting. It shifts much like a “ratchet” shifter in a drag race car.

Next Gen NASCAR cars practicing for a race in an empty stadium.

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The NASCAR Next Gen series car's transmission is called "sequential manual". This means that drivers have to change gears for every gear change, just like the old "H-pattern" manuals. But the pattern is very different.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup cars have a clutch pedal. And drivers will have to use it to shift the car into 1st gear. But after 1st gear, most race car drivers don't use their clutch pedal. Instead, they match their engine rpm to the speed of the car to make quicker shifts.

How is next-gen NASCAR different?

The rear transaxle transmission unit changes several things about the Next Gen car: it spins two separate half-shafts that float on an independent rear suspension. It also makes room for a full car length wing which creates more downforce.

NASCAR Next Gen cars racing around the Los Angeles Coliseum.

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Many aspects of the 2022 NASCAR Next Gen car are different from the old model. And you can trace many of those differences back to the new front-engine, rear-transaxle powertrain.

Next Gen cars do not have a dynamic rear axle. Instead, the rear transaxle unit rotates two half-shafts. This allows independent rear suspension. NASCAR teams can now adjust rear wheel camber to better grip steeply banked tracks such as Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Next Gen Car's transaxle is taller than the rear differential of a solid axle. This allows for NASCAR's first car-length underwing. This aerodynamic element quickly evacuates the air under the car. The underside of the fender is one of the reasons Next Gen cars can create 1,000 pounds more downforce than its predecessor.

All that downforce means Next Gen cars can ride higher off the ground and have more suspension travel, floating over track imperfections without crashing. Additionally, a unique design of the Next Gen car can handle left and right turns on a road course as well as racing on a superspeedway.