Michael McDowell Breaks Down NASCAR Next Gen Test at Phoenix Raceway

The defending Daytona 500 champion and Arizona native, Michael McDowell, was the first driver to jump on track at Phoenix Raceway for NASCAR’s final Next Gen test of the offseason. A total of 15 NASCAR teams hauled 18 cars and 28 drivers to the valley to put the final touches on the new car featuring an entirely different design and build both inside and out.

McDowell earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory last season in the sport’s most prestigious race, the Daytona 500. After opening the year with a win, he was able to close the year at home at the Avondale track. The 37-year-old and his team at Front Row Motorsports now prepare to defend their Daytona 500 title in less than a month’s time when they partake in the Great American Race once again.

With NASCAR designing a new seventh generation of race cars for 2022 and beyond, the series held multiple tests at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Daytona International Speedway, to allow the series and the teams to collect data as they prepare to debut the fresh iteration of the sport in February. I was also able to chat with one of the Rookie of the Year contenders, Harrison Burton, racing this season for the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team.

Phoenix Raceway will again host the NASCAR Championship race in 2022 where four of NASCAR’s series will crown their champions but will first revisit the desert from March 11-13. NASCAR kicks off their 2022 season with an exhibition race, the Busch Clash, at the Los Angles Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6 before the annual Daytona 500 kicks off the new season on Feb. 20.