Toyota debuted its new NASCAR Camry at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday.
CONCORD, N.C. – Toyota unveiled its 2015 Camry, which will compete in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series next season.
NASCAR approved the new Camry last month to allow Toyota to complement its on track effort with the redesign of the production car this year.
“We’re excited,” said Dave Wilson, TRD President and General Manager. “We’re the first OEM to do an update to the Gen 6 cars. It’s affirmation of NASCAR’s commitment to this new relevancy – along with all the OEMs – came up with. This is proof positive. I’m sure all of our competitors will be right behind us as they evolve their production vehicles.
“We’re really excited because the new Camry looks really good.”
Joe Gibbs, who owns the flagship operation for Toyota in NASCAR, likes the new design and the fact that it looks more like a production.
Our fans say they want the car to look more like the street car, so I think they’ve accomplished their goal here.
“It looks aggressive, mean,” Gibbs said. “Our fans say they want the car to look more like the street car, so I think they’ve accomplished their goal here.
Putting it to the test
The redesign of the showroom car started in 2012 and talk of a new car for the track surfaced later that season. In 2013, Toyota Racing Development began working on the new car and by January, the third edition was in the wind tunnel.
Wilson isn’t concerned that NASCAR’s new testing ban will slow the progress of the Camry on the track. Since all manufacturers are under the same restrictions when it comes to testing the cars in the advent of the 2015 rules package, it will be an even playing field. And as far as any team or manufacturer trying to test at proving grounds facilities after the season ends, Wilson agrees the “death penalty” or P6 in NASCAR’s rulebook, is “just not worth it.”
“Everybody is going to do as much testing as they can right now, not only for Chase purposes but in anticipation that one day after Homestead, there will no longer be testing,” Wilson said. “There’s two big tests that are NASCAR/Goodyear-related at Phoenix and California. We’re definitely going to get our ’15 car to one if not both of those events.”
Gibbs said his Sprint Cup drivers will not participate in the testing as long as they’re still in the Chase.
“And that’s what Toyota wants, too,” Gibbs said. “They want to win a championship. That will be their focus.”
The good news is we’re not constrained just to on track testing.
Wilson adds, “The good news is we’re not constrained just to on track testing. We have all the tools – simulation, CFD, wind tunnel – all those that give us enough confidence.
“In reality, we’re in the same box we were the last time. When we went to the wind tunnel we had a Ford representative there, a Chevy representative in attendance as is the policy and our numbers – downforce, drag – are still within the box that they give all three OEMs.”
The big picture
As important as the new design is to the manufacturer, so is the performance on the track. With the 2015 rules changing the cars so dramatically, Wilson’s biggest challenge will be acclimating the NASCAR’s new parameters not the character lines of the Camry.
The interest that we have isn’t so much ‘Hey, what does our new car look like’ but it’s the 2015 rules, it’s the two-inch shorter spoiler, the 38-inch radiator pan, which all of us want to find out – along with the engine. The fact that we have some new body work is minor, really.”
Toyota has also updated its NASCAR engine to find the balance between reliability and speed. While the Camrys were fast in 2013, TRD also experienced a rash of failures.
Wilson says TRD is “right where we need to be” for the Chase.
Looking at the guys we’re racing now, I believe that we can get two – if not all three into the final eight.
“We made a major step change to our package before Chicago,” Wilson said. “If you talk to our boys they all were pretty happy in Chicago and we have that package through the end of the year.
“Certainly, with this new Chase format, while everybody likes to talk about winning, you’re points racing until you win. You really have to run in the top 10 every week. You don’t have to win.
“The final eight (drivers) will separate the (men from the boys). Looking at the guys we’re racing now, I believe that we can get two – if not all three into the final eight. From there, we’re going to have to make a step change to get someone to Miami.”