DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Chevrolet went from the SS bodystyle to the new Camaro for the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season. The anticipation was high since the last two years couldn’t have gone much worse for them. See, Chevy used to be a dominating factor in NASCAR’s premiere series. They’ve won a record 39 championships over the course of their storied careers.
But, when Jimmie Johnson won their 39th title in 2016, they haven’t won one since. In fact, they haven’t even contended for one over the last three years. No Chevy driver has made it to the Championship 4 in the Cup Series since Johnson’s title four years ago this November.
They’ve struggled to put it bluntly. The Toyota’s and Ford’s have not only caught them, but they’ve passed them and gapped them with a wide margin.
“I feel like last year Chevy came, they just missed the ball,” Chevy owner Richard Petty said. “You know what I mean? They thought they had something good. Once they put it on the racetrack and got going…”
Petty, is NASCAR’s all-time winningest Cup driver with 200 trips to victory lane. Most of his success has come with General Motors. Now, he says that offseason changes have helped them get back on the right footing for 2020 as he and the other Chevy team owners expect better success for this upcoming season.
“This year they corrected a lot of these mistakes,” Petty continued. “We hope they corrected it enough that we’re going to be competitive everywhere we go. I think from that standpoint, Chevrolet and all the Chevrolet people are really looking forward to making up for what we did last year.”
One thing that Chevy did was make modifications to the bodystyle again. It was a huge investment made for a car that’s going to be obsolete following this season. See, a new car, the Next Gen, comes out for the 2021 season. Why spend all that money on a car that’s going to be worthless nine months from now?
It’s a competitive nature that Chevy has. They don’t want to put all their focus on 2021 and throw 2020 away like they have in recent years.
Another thing Chevy did was make one large building and to put all of their R&D under one roof for all of their teams to use.
“Right now I think Chevrolet’s probably got the best overall program, and they’re looking forward to doing better, building a new operation in I guess Concord, Charlotte, somewhere, so that all of us can work out of one particular place,” said Petty. “Right now they’re working out of a bunch of different places. All the engineering will be done in one place. It will be close to all the racers and stuff.
“I think they’re totally, totally committed to racing. We want to be right along in there with somebody that’s as dedicated to racing as we are.”