As excited as many were to see Chevrolet replace its SS-style stock car in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with the Camaro for this year, the new Camaro ZL1 race car has put in a pretty lackluster performance so far in 2018, earning no wins since February’s season opener at Daytona. Chevrolet came close to clinching victory last weekend with Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson, who finished second after giving up the lead to Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota Camry.
If you ask Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., Chevrolet and its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers have only the car to blame.
“My car handles way worse than [Kevin] Harvick or Kyle [Busch]’s car at 200 mph,” Wallace said at Daytona this week, AP Sports reports. “Just because the cars look the same and they all go through tech and everything, they are damn sure not the same. My car is not the same as any other [Number] 18 or 4 car. It would be interesting to say, ‘Let’s swap seats and see how that goes.'”
Chevrolet, which won thirteen consecutive manufacturer titles in NASCAR’s premier Cup racing series between 2003 and 2015, is trailing well behind Ford and Toyota this season, with just the one win to the other two manufacturers’ eight victories apiece. According to AP Sports, the issue is partly due to the fact that Chevrolet designed its new Camaro ZL1 stock car to excel under NASCAR’s old template inspection system, while the sanctioning body switched to a newer, more precise scanning system for the 2018 season, mitigating some of the design’s advantages.
There’s also the issue of NASCAR enforcing new rules regarding front splitters, requiring them to be perfectly flat. That alone might not make such a great difference on a road car, but racing around an oval track at 200 mph, it means that the Chevrolets have more of a tendency to push around corners than they previously did.
“A lot of people were pumped up about the Chevy Camaro, and we haven’t delivered the wins that we thought our camp would this year as far as that goes,” says Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driver Austin Dillon, who secured the manufacturer’s sole win of the 2018 season so far. “We’re working, though, as a group to get closer. Larson had a great shot at Chicago. That’s positive. And hopefully we can figure out how to get the speed that his Camaro has shown all year.”