By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- There it sat, blue with white trim, the Camaro that will carry Chevrolet's standard in NASCAR's Nationwide Series next year.
That's right, a Camaro. After initial resistance to the idea of putting its iconic sports car head-to-head against Ford's Mustang, Dodge's Challenger and Toyota's Camry, Chevrolet has introduced an eye-catching car that captures the essence of its street version.
The car was unveiled Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The design elements were the tipping point all along. When the carmakers introduced their new Nationwide models at Talladega in 2009, Chevy stuck with the Impala SS, maintaining that it would be difficult to capture the Camaro's distinctive lines within the competitive parameters set forth by NASCAR.
With a proven ability to match the cars aerodynamically, and with ramped-up production of a wide array of street and racing models, Chevy thought the time was right to race the Camaro in the Nationwide Series.
"Our team of Chevrolet designers and aerodynamic engineers did a fantastic job capturing the great looks and styling cues of the production Camaro, while providing our NASCAR teams with a highly competitive aero platform," said Pat Suhy, manager, Chevrolet Racing Oval Track Group.
"For the remainder of 2012, our engineers will be busy working with Chevy teams on wind tunnel and on-track testing to fine-tune the car in preparation for next year. It will be great to see Camaro compete on the track against its showroom competition, starting with the season opener at Daytona."
Chevrolet currently leads the Nationwide Series in wins, manufacturer standings and in driver championship standings with Elliott Sadler.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the new Camaro has met the required aero numbers in the wind tunnel and is approved for competition by the sanctioning body.
"I think it's big," Pemberton said at the unveiling. "I think the Camaro-Mustang rivalry and the Challenger rivalry will be good. Anybody can just do a model change with an upgrade to what they're currently running, but to put the effort forward to introduce a completely new model has really meant a lot to us."