NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will begin introducing a flange-fit composite body into the NASCAR XFINITY Series for three races in 2017. The body, which will be an option for teams at Richmond, Dover, and Phoenix, is a cheaper, lighter, and more durable race body than the current steel body.
The body, currently used in the NASCAR K&N Pro and ARCA Racing Series, is manufactured by Five-Star Racecar Bodies. It features 10 mounting points laminated into the internal mounting flanges and 12 flange-fit panels. The body is designed to reduce costs and the amount of time needed to be repaired if crashed.
If a driver gets into the wall while practicing or qualifying, and with the body being in 12 different pieces, teams can quickly undo one portion of the car and add a new portion without the extensive and exhausting work like a steel body would require. Brett Bodine, Senior Director of R&D for NASCAR, explained the process of making repairs.
“Yeah, so an incident in practice, say you damage a right rear quarterpanel,” Bodine explained to the media. “It can be easily unbolted from the other body panels and from the chassis and another one can be bolted on in its place. And not only at a race event weekend, but that is how we envision this repair process taking place after an event. The turnaround time for a team that might have received damage at an event should be significantly reduced by the fact that these panels can be unbolted and a new one put on. Also, the panels can be sent back to our supplier, and these panels can be repaired at a much reduced cost versus buying a complete new panel, and they can be put back into service at a later date. We envision that possibly teams could get away with less cars in their inventory because the turnaround time to do repairs will be substantially less.
NASCAR will roll out the new body even further in 2018 as teams will have the option to run the composite body at all tracks except for Talladega and Daytona. In 2019, NASCAR hopes to make the composite body mandatory for every NASCAR XFINITY Series race.
“Our goal is to have it mandatory across the board starting in 2019,” said Wayne Auton in a media availability on Wednesday. “As I said, this is an exciting time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. I know there's been a lot of talk out there about this finally getting on the racetrack, and we're excited and can't wait to get to Richmond.”
NASCAR has no plans at this time for a similar body package in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series or Camping World Truck Series.
How will the composite body save money for teams in the long run?
“The efficiencies of using a composite flange fit body really are across the board from potentially needing less chassis to do the XFINITY Series because of the turnaround time on repairs, to the actual amount of time it takes to hang a complete new body on a chassis,” Bodine continued. “The repairs most likely can be done by the team instead of potentially having to farm it out to a body hanger that they do business with now with the steel bodies. There's a lot of areas that this cost savings of this type body will provide for the team owners.”
The best way to describe this new body, as Wayne Auton put it, “We’re getting a car in a box”.