Photo: HHP/Ashley R Dickerson

Chevrolet Owners Look to Close Competitive Gap with Camaro in 2018

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After a season that saw Chevrolet miss out on the top-four in the final championship standings in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the first time in recent memory, a new car model for the 2018 season has the Bowtie Brigade energized for the season to come.

Late last year, Chevrolet unveiled the Camaro ZL1 model that would be replacing the outgoing SS, marking the first redesign for the manufacturer since the Gen 6 was rolled out in 2013.

Right out of the gate, a Chevrolet was the fastest during Daytona 500 pole qualifying, with Alex Bowman taking his No. 88 car to the top of the speed chart. The car performed well in actual race conditions as well, with Chase Elliott winning the second of the two Can-Am Duels on Thursday night.

Friday afternoon, all four Chevrolet team owners (Chip Ganassi, Richard Childress, Richard Petty, and Rick Hendrick) assembled at Daytona to give their thoughts on the 2018 season.

Hendrick was the first to chime in on the new car, noting that the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mantra still applies today and the new Camaro only helps that fact.

“To me, it’s like a dream come true being a dealer,” Hendrick said. “To see the car we have in the showroom exactly like that on a racetrack, it’s going to be win on Sunday, sell on Monday.

“It’s such a good-looking car. Chevrolet did more work on this car than any car they’ve ever brought into this series…It’s an amazing car, iconic nameplate with Chevrolet.”

Like Hendrick, Childress has been with Chevrolet from the start of his organization and even drove a Camaro during his driving career. He echoed the excitement about the new model for 2018.

“It’s great,” Childress said. “I ran a Camaro in the Talladega 500 in 1969 when the track was opened. To be running a Camaro again today in NASCAR is unbelievable. Like Rick said, this car looks so much – everybody has worked hard to keep it looking like our street version.”

The newest Chevrolet owner, Richard Petty, moves over to the manufacturer after running Fords the last handful of years and aligning with RCR for 2018. Petty has history with Chevrolet, winning races with them in 1979 and 1980.

“Really looking forward to it,” Petty said. “We’re working a whole lot with Chevrolet working with RCR. Sort of a new chapter in Richard Petty Motorsports’ book. We got a new shop, we got a new car, we got a new driver. Had a pretty good night last night. I was very appreciative of how everything went for us last night. Everything was brand new to us.

“We’re looking forward to the rest of the year, like everybody else. From our standpoint, it was almost like winning…Chevrolet has been really behind us to try and get us up to speed on how they run their operations and stuff. So far, it’s been good. We’re looking forward to bigger and better things.”

Ganassi, who has had success with Chevrolet in both NASCAR and IndyCar, also noted how excited he was about running the Camaro in the Cup Series this season.

“Very excited,” said Ganassi. “Obviously we’re excited about the performance the last few days here at Daytona. Certainly looking forward to Sunday.”

All in all, the four Chevrolet owners have 373 Cup Series wins between them while their drivers have piloted Chevrolets, along with 11 Daytona 500 wins, so if the new Camaro can produce the kind of speed it has thus far, they should be among the teams to beat in 2018.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.