Camaro ZL1 1LE

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Chad Knaus: ‘We’re better prepared’ for new Camaro model

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The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season will see Chevrolet teams competing with the new Camaro ZL1 1LE model two years after the Camaro’s debut and one year before the Next Gen car’s scheduled debut in the series.

Chad Knaus, entering his second season as crew chief on William Byron‘s No. 24 Chevrolet, addressed the new Camaro model Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“The unknown is obviously the car. That’s just going to take a little bit of time,” said Knaus, the last crew chief for a Chevrolet team to compete in the Cup Series’ Championship 4, when he and Jimmie Johnson won their seventh title in 2016.

In the Camaro’s first two years, Chevy teams have won 11 races, including four in 2018, while Ford won 29 races and Toyota won 32 races.

Another factor in the change was the problems with the ZL1’s pointed nose when it came to pushing other cars at Daytona and Talladega compared to Ford and Toyota and their flatter noses.

Knaus predicted the rollout of the new model will be “significantly different” to the Camaro’s debut in 2018.

“We’re more educated, we’re better prepared,” Knaus said. “What happened when we we brought out the new car is at the exact same time NASCAR changed the way they were inspecting the cars and employing the Hawkeye laser scanner, right? The older car, when it was designed, wasn’t really built for that. We had a little bit more leeway, we could have manipulated it let’s say just a little bit better to get some performance out of it. Well, with the restrictions that NASCAR’s put on us with the surface conformance all the way around the car, we didn’t have that ability.

“So that car was, it came out behind, does that make sense? With those rules, we weren’t able get on top of it. I do feel this car is coming out of the gate stronger. You never know that until you hit the race track, obviously. But I do feel it’s better and we’re going to be able to go out there and race a little bit better, which is great for Axalta and all our sponsors, they’re expecting that.”

The Camaro ZL1 1LE model will see its first track action Feb. 8 when teams practice at Daytona International Speedway for the Feb. 9 Busch Clash and Feb. 9 Daytona 500 qualifying.

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Chevrolet changing Camaro model for Cup Series in 2020

Chevrolet
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Chevrolet will field a different Camaro model in the Cup Series in 2020.

The manufacturer announced Thursday it will switch from the Camaro ZL1 model to the Camaro ZL1 1LE.

The Camaro ZL1 1LE is based on the fastest, most track-capable production Camaro model.

“The ZL1 1LE is the highest performer within the Camaro production-car lineup,” Jim Campbell, Chevy’s U.S. vice president of Performance and Motorsports, said in a press release. “We took lessons from the production car and applied them to the new 2020 Cup car.”

According to the press release, Chevrolet engineers optimized aerodynamic performance by employing computational fluid dynamics (CFD), simulation, and reduced-scale and full-scale wind-tunnel testing.

The current production Camaro ZL1 1LE – with lighter wheels and dampers, thinner rear glass and a fixed-back rear seat – sheds more than a 50-pounds than a standard ZL1 Coupe and is powered by a 650-horsepower, supercharged LT4 engine.

The Camaro was introduced to the Cup Series in 2018. The Camaro ZL1 1LE joins the Camaro SS, which has been Chevrolet’s entry in the Xfinity Series since 2013.