NextGen Cars Mean Next-Generation Machining Strategy for Team Penske

POSTED ON 7/28/2023 – The establishment of NextGen cars in the NASCAR Cup Series has had a profound impact at Team Penske. As a result of the rules and requirements surrounding those cars, the team went from building all of its own cars on site and manufacturing the majority of the components for those cars to basically purchasing off-the-shelf cars. 

While NextGen cars are, for the most part, off-the-shelf in terms of their components, Team Penske and other teams have some leeway when it comes to modification. However, there are now very stringent rules as to what a team can and cannot modify and to what extent those components can be modified.

Allowable modifications now involve extremely tight and precise increments that require higher precision machine tools because now a thousandth of an inch modification can be the difference between winning and losing. It is for this reason that most of Team Penske’s machine tool technology has had to change.

According to Production Manager Matt Gimbel, Team Penske has had to pretty much start over and remake all its build, setup and quality control equipment as well as most of its machine tools. The Team had to also reevaluate how it approached its part manufacturing processes and procedures. For instance, with the old cars, they produced a lot of chassis parts. With the NextGen cars, they are not.

Prior to the NextGen cars, Team Penske had a well-rounded mix of machine tools – milling, turning, 5-axis and some multi-tasking part processing capabilities. Now, the shift is more towards high-precision multi-tasking technology such as that of the Mazak INTEGREX i Series of Multi-Tasking Machines, the main reason being that where and how the Team is allowed to modify dictates a higher level of precision machining. 

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