Chevrolet was last but certainly not least with the unveiling of its new NASCAR Sprint Cup car for 2012.
The Chevy SS made its debut during NASCAR champion’s week on Thursday in Las Vegas. The “SS,” or Super Sport, will replace the Impala brand that GM has campaigned most recently in the series since 2007.
“We’re very excited about the race car and what we will debut with the production car during Speedweeks so the fans can truly see the connection,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “When they see the production car they will say, ‘Wow, they are connected.’ We’re not only excited about the way the car looks but how it performs so far to date.
“We thank NASCAR for the opportunity to have this collaborative effort and to have a car that actually puts the stock back into stock-car racing.”
Certainly, the delay in the project was two-fold — Chevrolet’s model launch did not coincide with NASCAR’s new car plans. The Chevy SS is the 2014 model and is expected to arrive in showrooms late next year.
While most team owners welcome NASCAR’s latest model, among the Chevrolet owners no one is more pleased than Rick Hendrick, who as a car dealer lives by the adage, "Win on Sunday, buy on Monday."
“It’s going to be huge for the Chevy dealers,” Hendrick said. “I got to be at the Chevy launch for the dealer convention. When the dealers saw the car, they were excited because it’s a V-8, all rear-wheel drive car with a 400-horse(power) motor. It will be like the good ol’ days. It will be a fairly limited production, but there’s a lot of excitement.
“The attitude of the dealers is pretty impressive. We’re really going to enjoy having the car in the showroom that we see on the racetrack. The fans want it. The dealers want it. So it will be good for the sport.”
Despite the sleek new design, how will the new car affect the racing? Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has mixed emotions regarding NASCAR’s new car project. With the gray areas shrinking in the realm of innovation, Johnson isn’t convinced that a different vehicle is the way to go.
“The days of being a couple-tenths (of a second) faster than someone and passing them don’t exist,” Johnson said. “You have to be a half-second faster than somebody to really have a chance to pass them. And I don’t know how we fix it. I really don’t.
“I appreciate the efforts that everyone’s making. And also being on a team and seeing how hard my guys have to work every winter to try and chase the latest idea. I think we need to look in some different areas and create some better racing surfaces, track designs and look in those areas some.”