Camaro gets promoted to NASCAR top tier

Camaro SS has been Chevy bodystyle in NASCAR XFINITY Series since 2013

Joe Duarte
Published: August 10, 2017, 10:30 PM
Updated: August 15, 2017, 6:29 AM

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Race Car

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Race Car

The Chevrolet Camaro is finally moving up to the big leagues, with the announcement that the model’s ZL1 designation would become the new bodystyle of the Chevrolet NASCAR Cup Series car, replacing the current Chevrolet SS-body.

The Camaro ZL1 racecar will make its competition debut when the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicks off in February, with the Clash at Daytona — a non-championship points invitation-only race contested by Pole Award winners from the previous season, former Clash race winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time the previous season, and drivers who qualified for the previous season’s Chase for the Championship.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Race Car

“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 NASCAR next year, with the time-honored and track-tested ZL1 badge, and we’re just as excited for our drivers, teams, fans and customers.”

Chevrolet engineers used computational fluid dynamics analysis and reduced-scale and full-scale wind-tunnel testing, among other technologies, to optimize aerodynamics on the new Camaro racecar, while staying true to the ZL1 design. The Camaro SS has been the Chevrolet bodystyle in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series — the next tier of passenger car racing since 2013.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and ZL1 Race Car

“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, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “We look forward to racing the Camaro ZL1 in the premier Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.”

Of note is that the ZL1 was the designation of the all-aluminum Chevrolet racing engine back in the 1960s, with a few enterprising dealers using Chevrolet’s special-order system to obtain the racing engines, which they promptly installed in production Camaros. The ZL1 designation returned to Camaro production cars for 2012, with the 2018 version using a supercharged 6.2-litre V-8 making 650 hp.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Race Car and ZL1production car

“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,” concluded 7-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson — driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet for 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.”