NASCAR responds to Next Gen car fire concerns

AP file photo by Paul Sancya / NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick expressed frustration after his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford caught fire during Sunday’s Cup Series playoff opener despite not making contact with the wall or another car.

NASCAR is investigating a spate of car fires that left one Cup Series title contender fuming after his ride erupted into an inferno during Sunday's Southern 500, the first of 10 playoff races to determine the 2022 season's overall champion.

Kevin Harvick lashed out at NASCAR and its Next Gen car after his inexplicably caught fire at Darlington Raceway. The Next Gen, which debuted this season, uses single-source parts and is intended to both level the playing field and cut costs for teams.

The Next Gen has achieved some of its goals, but it has also raised safety concerns involving the force of impact that drivers are experiencing in crashes. Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup Series champion who drives for 23XI Racing, has been out since late July after sustaining a concussion during qualifying at Pocono Raceway, which ultimately led him to withdraw from the playoffs shortly before the regular-season finale.