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Toyota Rolls Out New Cup Camry

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 22 2012

The 2013 Sprint Cup Toyota Camry was unveiled on Tuesday.

SALISBURY, N.C. – Toyota’s 2013 Camry has a little bit different feel than the car currently raced on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit, but it’s not the major jump the drivers experienced when the old car was mothballed in favor of the COT, Kyle Busch said Tuesday at Toyota Racing and Development headquarters.

Busch attributed the difference to a shorter rear side panel.

“The rear quarter panel is about 2 to 4 inches shorter than our current car, so when you get off the corner and you start getting the car a little bit sideways or in yaw there’s not as much there to catch you or hold you,” Busch explained. “They tend to be a little bit looser feeling. You’ve got to tighten the car up a little bit more, get it more comfortable on the right front.”

Busch’s remarks came after the Joe Gibbs Racing driver piloted the 2013 Camry into a press conference at the TRD center. Toyota was the last of four manufacturers to unveil the car it will campaign on the Sprint Cup circuit next year. Ford revealed its Fusion in January during the annual media tour. Dodge showed its Charger at Las Vegas in March and Chevrolet distributed a press release last week touting its Chevrolet SS, which has not yet been unveiled.

Busch said the 2013 car was essentially the same as the one used this year, but with a different body, one incorporating the character lines and styling of the passenger car.

“It has the same cross member heights, all that stuff, same components, they’re just taking a body and laying it over the same frame,” Busch said.

Andy Graves, TRD’s vice president of chassis engineering/NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program manager, said development of the car began 18 months ago when NASCAR asked the four manufacturers to develop a race car for the series that would incorporate the design and character lines of one of their passenger cars. During that period, manufacturer representatives met on a weekly basis, either via a conference call or at a track to develop their respective 2013 cars.

“It’s been a long process,” Graves said. “It was last fall before we got to the point where we could agree on a set of parameters that all parties were comfortable with.”

That meant Kevin Hunter, president of Calty Design Research Inc., couldn’t begin working on the car’s character lines until about October. Calty is the North American arm of Toyota’s global design network.

Graves said in addition to an on-track test at Homestead, there had been two collective wind tunnel tests where each manufacturer had to bring its parts.

“This is actually a pretty unique system that we’ve devised this time,” Graves continued. “NASCAR had the wind tunnel car that had all of the common surfaces that we have determined are built into this car. (You take your parts) and then you bolt your panels on top of it to give your character. You show up at the wind tunnel, not with a complete car but only with a set of panels.”

Graves said the panels were the entire front of the car, the doors and the tail section.

“I think it will be September when you see the car hit the track,” Graves said. “Hopefully, we’ll complete the entire approval process sometime in July. Our internal goal is to start getting the teams’ parts in early September so they can start building cars.”

The unique approach taken this time has not been without frustration for all of the manufacturers, however, Graves noted “we know the parity that is coming at the end and that is the most important thing for all of us.”

“You just want an equal shot,” Graves continued. “Once you have your panels approved, you will see some differences because of team development and what they do with the body, but our biggest thing is a starting point. You want to make sure you’re on equal footing. We feel we have a great process in place. The manufacturers have worked hard along with NASCAR to come up with that process.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 22 2012
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