NASCAR shifts to center-locking wheels for 2021

NASCAR is making a big change for 2021 along with the introduction of the Nex Gen race car: Center-locking wheels with a single lug nut.

NASCAR shifts to center-locking wheels for 2021
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NASCAR will also move from a 15-inch steel to 18-inch aluminum rims.

"One of our main goals with the Next Gen car is to provide a vehicle that better replicates what our OEM partners sell in the showroom – both in looks and relevant technology. Moving to an 18” forged aluminum wheel helps do just that," said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation John Probst.

"Once the decision was made to go that direction, we tested different lug nut options. With the loads on the larger wheels, we had to make sure that the wheel would remain securely fastened the car. The single lug, center lock design was the best way to accomplish this."

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However, this will not fundamentally change how pit stops look moving forward but will result in faster stops.

"The choreography of a pit stop won’t change. You’ll still have the same over-the-wall crew members you have today, and rules related to when they can enter the pit box are still in effect," explained Probst.

"It will still be important for the tire changers to be quick off the wall to get to the far side of the car. Hand-eye coordination remains extremely important, you’re still trying to get the lug and tire on and off the car faster than 39 other teams. The overall way a pit stop looks will remain the same.

"In terms of timing, the torque is higher on the single lug, which means they have to leave the gun on longer. In our testing, we’ve found that it takes approximately half a second to properly tighten this new lug. Today, a good tire changer can remove five lugs in about .8 seconds. So, while pit stops may be a touch quicker next year, it won’t be a significant difference."

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