NASCAR’s Nationwide Series will have a new pony car on the track in 2013.
Chevrolet unveiled the Camaro SS at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.
The project — a collaborative effort between Chevrolet and Richard Childress Racing — was kept closely under wraps and approved just three weeks ago.
“Chevrolet is proud to bring the Camaro (to) the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2013,” said Jim Campbell, vice president, Chevrolet Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “The Camaro Nationwide race car incorporates many of the distinctive styling elements of the production Camaro, including the unique power-bulge hood and deep recessed grille. In addition, the design incorporates the distinctive halo light rings and dual-port grille appearances, and the gold bowtie.”
Chevrolet is a little late to the NASCAR Pony Car party. Ford and Dodge introduced the Mustang and Challenger, respectively at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2009.
But Camaro was just re-introduced into the new car market three years ago. In 2010 and 2011, Camaro led its segment in sales and once again tops the chart in 2012.
“We know that our NASCAR fans like cars, so this is an exciting moment for us,” said NASCAR president Mike Helton. “To have a Camaro now in the Nationwide against the other pony cars is kind of fun for an old guy to watch the racing as it will be in 2013.”
For Chevrolet, the challenge was creating a competitive car while maintaining the integrity of the character lines and styling cues of the street car. Pat Suhy, manager, Chevrolet Racing Oval Track Group says the team’s designers and aerodynamic engineers “did a fantastic job.”
While the 2013 Camaro has yet to hit the racetrack, Suhy says the teams will be testing in earnest before the car debuts in competition at Daytona in February.
“For the remainder of 2012, our engineers will be busy working with our Chevy teams on wind tunnel and on-track testing to fine-tune the car in preparation for next year,” Suhy said. “It will be great to see Camaro compete on the track against its showroom competition starting with the 2013 season opener at Daytona.”
Chevrolet currently leads the manufacturer championships in NASCAR’s top three tours. In the Nationwide Series, two Richard Childress Racing drivers, Elliott Sadler and Austin Dillon, are currently first and second in the points standings.
Childress said NASCAR offered distinct parameters for the Camaro and it was up to his research and development team to “stay in that box.”
“They wanted all the cars to be real equal,” Childress said. “We took our aero team and talking with some of the teams to build this car. We’re very proud of it. It looks so much like the stock car sitting beside it. It’s just a real neat deal.”
Dillon, the current truck champion who is sitting second in the Nationwide points standings, has a Camaro in his garage at home but can’t wait to test the race car on the track.
“It’s beautiful, man,” Dillon said. “It’s an awesome looking car and I can’t wait to race it. All the manufacturers have great-looking cars in the Nationwide Series. I can’t wait to get the Camaro out there against the other cars and win.”