Chevrolet has a new body and new engine block in NASCAR for 2020; It’s working spectacularly
The Camaro ZL1 made it’s NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2018. It soon fell flat in the stats column.
In 2019, NASCAR debuted a new rules package for tracks over 1-mile. This included a taller spoiler, larger front splitter, aero ducts and 550 horsepower (200 less than before).
Chevrolet struggled even harder through 2019. They won just 7 of 36 races in 2019 despite being the most prominent manufacture on the starting grid for the stock car racing division.
2019 Chevrolet Wins: Chase Elliott (Talladega Superspeedway), Alex Bowman (Chicagoland Speedway), Justin Haley (Daytona International Speedway), Kurt Busch (Kentucky Speedway), Chase Elliott (Watkins Glen International), Chase Elliott (Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course), Kyle Larson (Dover International Speedway).
But, the more telling part of the story is that 4 of those 7 wins came on a road-course or superspeedway. Only two them came with the lower horsepower package, which is the bread and butter of the NASCAR schedule.
Chevrolet was in big trouble and needed some help. They got it…
Chevy comes with a new car for 2020: Camaro ZL1 1LE
NASCAR collects cars from each manufacture to conduct wind tunnel tests at random points of the season. This allows NASCAR to get a read on the drag and downforce levels. They want to make sure all three manufactures are close to each other thus creating a fair racing series.
In this case, Chevy was way behind on the numbers. So, NASCAR allowed them to adjust the Camaro that previously made it’s debut in 2018.
At Daytona of this year, the Camaro ZL1 1LE took to the race track. Now, week after week, Hendrick Motorsports has been fast. It looks like an entirely different race team compared to year’s previous.
Jimmie Johnson specifically, has been at the front in most races so far this year. Johnson in his final NASCAR season. But, it’s every Chevrolet team that’s seen a clear notch in performance.
Denny Hamlin comments on the new NASCAR Camaro
The Toyota camp has taken notice…
“Chevys in general, they’re fast. They’re really the only manufacture that got to build a car directly for the package that we run,” Denny Hamlin stated.
“The Toyotas and Fords were built on the low downforce package. Then, we added a bunch of spoiler and splitter to them.”
“Cartinaly, there’s an advantage, knowing ‘this is the rule package, how can we optimize downforce and drag.’ I think Chevy has done that,” Hamlin concluded.
Jimmie Johnson comments; New Chevrolet body and engine block
“Without a doubt, that new Camaro has been a huge help for us,” Jimmie Johnson stated.
“Through last year’s events. With NASCAR taking those three cars after the races and blowing them in the wind tunnel, they saw the situation.”
“They allowed Chevrolet to build a new Camaro and get us up on par with the Toyotas and Fords. So, this year, we feel like we are much more in the ballpark. Much more on an equal, with them, with the 550 package.”
“With the low horsepower, it’s really about efficiencies. It kind of tells a story — Back when we didn’t have these restricted engines, the Chevrolets were creating downforce in an inefficient manner. But, it didn’t matter because we had the horsepower to pull us through it.”
“Last year, it was pretty obvious when we raced the 550 package, that we had trouble. We couldn’t trim the cars out to the lengths that the other manufactures could.”
“After NASCAR studied upon it hard, they realized that they needed to do something. And, they let us have a new car this year.”
“That and the new engine block that they approved for the year. That engine block is a lot lighter. It helps on days like today (at Bristol).”
“It’s their job to keep equality. They allowed us to make those changes and bring us up to par with the other two makes.”
It’s a good time to have a fast car. Teams are currently in a development freeze. A new car was scheduled to debut in 2021.
That new car has now been pushed back until 2022. That means the current spec of cars will remain in place for another year and a half.
The 2022 car will see a spec chassis and far less room for development.