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Camaro ZL1 To Represent Chevy In Cup Series

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, August 10 2017

The Chevrolet 2018 Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Series car will make its debut next February during Daytona Speedweeks, which kicks off the 2018 NASCAR season. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)

Chevrolet will double-down on the Camaro nameplate in NASCAR beginning in 2018.

The Camaro ZL1 was introduced as the manufacturer’s new race car for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Thursday at General Motors Renaissance Center Global Headquarters in Detroit.

“Chevrolet, Camaro and ZL1 are all synonymous with winning, both on and off the track,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of GM Global Product Development. “We are thrilled to run Camaro in the NASCAR Cup Series next year with the time-honored and track-tested ZL1 badge, and we’re just as excited for our drivers, teams, fans and customers.”

The Camaro ZL1 will make its competitive debut next February during Daytona Speedweeks, which annually kicks off the 2018 NASCAR season. The ZL1 will join the Camaro SS, which has been Chevrolet’s entry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2013. 

“The new Camaro ZL1 is a great-looking race car with a lot of heritage behind it, which will make it a big hit with fans,” said Jimmie Johnson, seven-time/reigning Cup champion and driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports. “And as someone who’s enjoyed the ZL1 on the street, I’m really looking forward to getting this new race car on the track.”

Chevrolet engineers employed an array of tools, including computational fluid dynamics analysis and reduced-scale and full-scale wind-tunnel testing, to optimize aerodynamic performance while maintaining the ZL1’s design character.

“Racers have long relied on Camaro to win races and championships in amateur and professional sports car and drag racing, as well as the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” said Jim Campbell, vice president, Chevrolet Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “We look forward to racing the Camaro ZL1 in the premier Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.”

In addition to Johnson, joining Chevrolet officials for the Camaro ZL1 race car’s debut were representatives from Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Germain Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing and Leavine Family Racing.

The Camaro ZL1 brings a unique, track-focused legacy to NASCAR. The ZL1 name originally was bestowed in the 1960s on a Chevrolet-developed all-aluminum racing engine that became a dominating force in road racing.

In 1969, a few enterprising dealers _ specifically Don Yenko and Baldwin/Motion Performance, both in Pennsylvania; Fred Gibb in LaHarpe, Ill., and Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago _ used Chevrolet’s Central Office Production Order system to get the ZL1 engine installed in 69 regular-production Camaros. Using COPO number 9560, 22 cars were built with automatic transmissions and 47 with 4-speeds.

It was Kansas City, Mo.-based Chevrolet dealer and drag racer Dick Harrell, known as Mr. Chevrolet, who originally joined Yenko and Gibb in approaching Vince Piggins, the man behind various Chevrolet performance projects during the 1960s, with a request to use COPO paperwork to build 427 CID Camaros. Those COPO F-body Camaros became legends on the street and drag strip and today are sought-after by collectors.

More than 40 years later, Chevrolet reintroduced the ZL1 as the ultimate performance Camaro, developed to offer track-capable performance off the showroom floor. The 2018 Camaro ZL1 is powered by a 650-horsepower supercharged engine featuring a similar 90-degree V-8 configuration as the Cup racing engines.

The new Camaro ZL1 race car will be tasked to build upon the winning legacy of the current Chevrolet SS sedan, which has scored 70 Cup Series wins to-date and contributed to Chevrolet earning a record 39 NASCAR manufacturer titles _ including 13 consecutive from 2003-2015. Chevrolet drivers also have scored a record 30 Cup championships.

Chevrolet officials confirmed in early January the automaker would cease production of the Chevy SS at the end of the 2017 model run. The SS made its Cup debut during the 2013 season, when NASCAR introduced the Gen-6 stock car in a bid to reinforce “brand identity” among OEM manufacturers Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. The SS followed the Impala, which competed in the Cup series from 2007-2012 in iterations that included the SS.

Coincidentally, Chevrolet NASCAR team-owner and enthusiast Rick Hendrick, accompanied by grandson Hendrick Carlson, picked up his Camaro ZL1 1LE at the General Motors Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Lansing, Mich., on Thursday. Hendrick purchased VIN 001 at a Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction for $250,000, with all proceeds benefiting the United Way.

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, August 10 2017
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