The next few generations added a ton more safety, especially the Car of Tomorrow, as a direct result of high-profile deaths in 2000 and 2001, which included that of Dale Earnhardt Sr. From the ’90s onwards, power increased despite the presence of restrictor plates, especially after the Cup series finally phased out carburated engines in 2012 in favor of electronic fuel injection. Engines around this time could produce up to 1,000 horsepower but were capped for safety and instead made closer to 850 hp in their top tune.
But then things changed. When drivers praised the power outputs and advocated for even more, NASCAR came in with a different tune, choosing to cut power instead. At the start of the Gen 6 era (2013-2021), cars were pushing out 850 horsepower, but by 2015, that had been cut to 725 for non-restricted events.
Today’s Next Gen cars share the same 5.8-liter V8 engine as the previous Gen 6 cars, but power has now been further capped to just 510 hp at tracks that require restrictor plates and 670 hp at all other events.