Scott Miller on Next Gen crash-test rumors: 'There's a lot of fiction out there'

A top NASCAR competition official dismissed rumors Tuesday that the Next Gen car had performed poorly in a recent crash test at Talladega.

A top NASCAR competition official dismissed rumors Tuesday that preliminary findings showed the Next Gen car had performed poorly in a recent crash test.

In a Tuesday morning appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said that officials are awaiting a full report from the June 30 crash test at Talladega Superspeedway.

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Miller explained the process that led up to the test and shed light on the next steps in the review process before the car’s debut in the 2022 Cup Series. He also said that nothing “alarming” appeared in an initial look at the crash-test data, which will take time to fully analyze.

“There’s a lot of fiction out there,” Miller said, “and what everyone has to realize is that our normal safety testing procedure at the laboratory, so to speak, the proving grounds where we typically set up our impacts and get the data, that was done differently because of COVID, because of the backlog at that facility, so we went and we did that test at Talladega — at a real race track.

“So what everybody needs to understand is when we were able to do that testing — and any safety testing that we do — there are reams of data that come off of that. And we, as far as the timeframe goes, it always takes a while to piece together the complete report on what we saw in a crash. So it’s not like we could … anybody should have expected that we would go crash that car and like, look at a couple of graphs and say, hey, we’re done analyzing this data. We see absolutely nothing in the data that’s alarming, but we want to have a comprehensive report, and I have no idea how all of the rumors started about that it didn’t go well, because it did go well. So that’s where we are, and hopefully we can get that report out.”

The Next Gen vehicle was driven by a robot and fitted with a crash dummy for last month’s test at the 2.66-mile Alabama track. Miller did not provide a concrete date for the report’s release, but said the length of the timetable should not be mistakenly attributed to concerns with the immediate findings. The data has been presented to an independent panel of experts in the biomechanics and safety field for evaluation.

“I’m not sure, I haven’t talked to John (Probst, NASCAR Senior VP of Racing Innovation) and seeing where they are with that and it being presented to everyone,” Miller said. “It shouldn’t be too much longer, but to expect that was going to happen in a day or two was unrealistic to begin with. And maybe we should have communicated that better up front. It’s not like because it’s taking time, it’s not good. That’s obviously how all the rumors get started. We might’ve, should’ve told everyone up front, don’t expect a comprehensive report because it takes time. So that’s where we are with that.”

Miller provided a point-blank answer when asked if the car’s competition debut at Daytona in 2022 was still on schedule as planned. “Absolutely,” he said.