Last year was a historic season for Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series — and not in a good way.
Chevy didn’t have a driver racing for the championship at Homestead for the first time in 15 years. The manufacturer will hope for different results in 2018, and the unveiling of the new Camaro ZL1 could give Chevy drivers an edge heading into the 2018 season.
Pat Suhy, Chevrolet’s NASCAR Group Manager, said last season’s results were “unacceptable” for the manufacturer.
“If you look at the car count and just do a ratio of the car count, we were (seven) out of 16 going into the playoffs last year and to not have one make it in the final round was not good,” Suhy said via NBC Sports.
“I expect us to have at least a car or two in the Final Four this year. There’s no reason we shouldn’t.”
Chase Elliott finished fifth overall in the standings, and he was the highest performer of any Chevy driver. Kyle Larson won four races during the year, but engine failure prevented him from competing for a title in the last two rounds. Jimmie Johnson won three races in the first half of the season, but he uncharacteristically underperformed in the postseason.
The new Camaro could be exactly what Chevy drivers need this season. Chevy wasn’t too far off — seven of the 16 playoff drivers drove a Chevy — but 2017 will be remembered as the year of Toyota. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch dominated the season, and Truex won his first title after winning eight races.
There might be a learning curve for Chevy drivers in the first half of the year as they grow accustomed to how the new Camaro handles. Toyota won only two of the first 17 races last year before winning 14 of the last 19.
One thing is clear, though: Suhy and other Chevy execs will be expecting a much better year from Chevy drivers in 2018, and they expect at least one of its drivers to be competing in the Championship 4 at Homestead in November.