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NASCAR mulls hybrid race cars for early next decade

Electrification has swept over so many motorsports, and NASCAR may be next.

Ford Mustang NASCAR
Hybrid NASCAR race cars? Sounds like it's very much in the future.

Big changes may be afoot for the NASCAR series as organizers look to introduce hybrid NASCAR race cars as early as 2022. 

NASCAR's senior vice president for racing development John Probst made the news in an interview with TechCrunch published on Thursday. The executive said NASCAR isn't blind to electrification squeezing its way into numerous other race series and said the push for hybrid race cars will come after 2021. It's possible we may see the electrified NASCAR racers hit the tracks in 2022, he added.

However, the hybrid technology might not be best suited for famed oval tracks so many associate with stock car racing. It may be better served on shorter circuits and those with more turns for braking. There, regenerative braking systems would put the hybrid systems in the spotlight. Similar to how Formula One's drag-reduction system works, racers could potentially activate the system to provide a short burst of extra power for overtaking.

No matter how the hybrid systems affect racing, Probst ensured its main job will be to add power. Any finalized hybrid upgrade will work alongside its current internal-combustion engine blueprint. NASCAR intends to work with the manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota) to see how it may work best for the race series.

Despite cozying up to hybrids, the idea of a battery-electric race car isn't on the table right now. The roar of engines blasting by fans is safe and sound for the foreseeable future.

Ahead of hybrid powertrains, NASCAR will introduce its next-generation race car in 2021. A prototype for the next-gen race car hit the track this week after two years of development. The series said the next car will not only honor traditional stock cars, but it will also incorporate new technology.

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