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Chevrolet unveils Camaro ZL1 as new Cup Series model in 2018

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Chevrolet announced Thursday it will begin using a Camaro model in the NASCAR Cup Series next season.

The Camaro ZL1 will replace the SS. The Camaro SS has been used in the Xfinity Series since 2013.

GM made the announcement with Chevy team owners and drivers in Detroit at the GM Global Headquarters.

“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,” Jimmie Johnson said in a press release. “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.”

Chevrolet has raced the SS model in Cup since 2013 when it replaced the Impala. The move is being made because the SS will not be produced after this year.

While the Camaro ZL1 will make its competition debut in February at Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, it will be on-track this weekend as the pace car for the Cup Series’ Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The ZL1 name was originally used in the 1960s on a Chevrolet-developed all-aluminum racing engine used in road racing. In 1969, a few dealers used Chevrolet’s special-order system to get the ZL1 engine installed in 69 regular-production Camaros.

The 2018 Camaro ZL1 is powered by a 650-horsepower supercharged engine featuring a similar 90-degree V-8 configuration as the Cup racing engines.

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Report: GM ending production, sale of Chevy SS by end of 2017

Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
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Chevrolet will cease production and sales of the Chevrolet SS in 2017, according to The Detroit News.

The SS is the model Chevrolet uses in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The model has been used in the series since its introduction in 2013. Chevrolet has won three Cup championships (Kevin Harvick, 2014; Jimmie Johnson, 2013, 2016) with the SS model.

Chevrolet’s decision to stop selling the SS in the United States is in conjunction with the closing of the Australian factory that produces the car, a move that’s been known about since 2013.

“Using the old adage, ‘Win on Sunday, Buy on Monday,’ we decided that in small numbers we’d introduce it the U.S. because we could, frankly, at a pretty low-cost,” said Alan Batey,  GM’s North America president Monday at the North American International Auto Show. “I would say the vehicle has been really well-received. It’s small volumes, but it’s been really well-received.”

The Detroit News also reports that 3,013 units of the Chevy SS were sold in 2016, an increase of 4.1 percent from 2015.

NBC Sports reached out to Chevrolet regarding its plans in the Cup Series with the discontinuation of the SS line.

“As you know, we don’t talk about future projects,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet US vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. “We’ll make any announcement regarding our next Cup entry at the appropriate time.”

In the Xfinity Series, Chevrolet-backed cars use a model based on the Camaro.