Michael L. Levitt

NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 70: The 2018 Camry

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It’s a common practice for automakers to make next year’s model available in showrooms with a few months remaining in the previous year.

But racing next year’s model a year ahead of time?

That’s why it’s notable that the debut of the 2018 Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series occurred roughly seven months before the production version is on sale to the public.

“What’s unique is we made the decision early on to bring this to the track before the cars are being sold in the showrooms,” Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said on the latest edition of the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “That’s very aggressive. Normally, the cadence is to wait until Daytona 2018. The reason was we were so enamored with the new car. The styling was so spectacular.

“We decided to take this on, and it’s a tremendous burden on ourselves and the team partners because we were developing this car, running this in the wind tunnel, months before the public would see anything.”

The development of the 2018 Camry, which was kept under heavy wraps for months leading up to its 2017 Daytona 500 debut, was the subject of the latest NASCAR on NBC podcast.

Wilson explained the competition side of fine-tuning the car in the first half of the podcast, while Calty Design Research’s Kevin Hunter and Ian Cartabiano explained how the car was developed in the studio.

Hunter and Cartabiano both worked on the Camry street car before moving to the racing version.

“The TRD guys allow us to throw out the first ball,” Hunter said. “We give them what we think it should look like, a good rendition based on the parameters. They absorb and decide what’s good and what’s bad.

“There was a real strong ambition to make this car really cool and keep the production car identity. It’s the most sculptural race car to date.”

Cartabiano, who grew up a Bill Elliott and Davey Allison fan, working on a stock car was a dream come true.

“This was the job I always wanted,” said Cartabiano, who has worked on seven production vehicles for Toyota. “Having the opportunity to design a new Camry and coming back to the home studio and make a new NASCAR version. To design and draw and make a race car that’s not just a sketch but really well thought out, that’s a really cool challenge, which makes it fun.”

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.


Justin Allgaier wins pole for Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won the pole for the Xfinity Series’ Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

With a speed of 182.488 mph, Allgaier earned his fifth Xfinity pole and his first since the March 2013 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Allgaier is joined on the front row by Austin Dillon (181.519).

The top five is completed by Ryan Blaney (181.378), Daniel Hemric (181.324) and Kevin Harvick (181.245).

Christopher Bell will start seventh in his first Xfinity race.

Brad Keselowski and Dakoda Armstrong will start from the rear after not passing inspection in time to qualify.

Click here for full qualifying results.

Ryan Blaney leads second Coke 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney posted the top speed in the second practice session for the Coca-Cola 600.

Blaney’s No. 21 Ford produced a speed of 188.055 mph Saturday morning around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The top five was filled out by Erik Jones (187.598 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (187.084), Daniel Suarez (186.838) and Trevor Bayne (186.239).

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was ninth fastest at 185.567 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14th quickest at 185.141 mph.

Kyle Bush recorded the most laps in the session with 48.

Click here for the full practice report.

Eight teams lose 15 minutes of Coke 600 practice for failing pre-qualifying inspection

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CONCORD, N.C. — Eight Cup teams will be held 15 minutes during Coca-Cola 600 practice today for failing pre-qualifying inspection on Thursday

Drivers include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher.

Buescher’s team also loses pit selection for Sunday’s race due to failing pre-qualifying inspection three ties.

Larson and LaJoie’s loss of practice time comes on top of them not making qualifying runs on Thursday after neither of their cars passed inspection in time.


NASCAR America: How much risk should drivers take in the Coca-Cola 600?

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As in many things in life, whether something is worth doing comes down to risk vs. reward.

Such will be the case in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. How much are drivers willing to risk? Will that risk be worth reward, particularly with the additional stage to the race?

On Friday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman jumped into the iRacing simulator and showed the greatest strategies to employ in Sunday’s race, especially with the traction compound up top.

Check out the above video.