NASCAR is the favorite sport of many American gearheads. Unlike Formula 1, NASCAR involves cars that are similar to the ones that many people can actually drive. However, one automaker’s been making cars that have led the rest of the pack, and that’s Chevy. Chevy’s won the most NASCAR championships of any other carmaker. Here’s why Chevy dominated NASCAR for so long.
Chevy’s history in NASCAR
Like the illegal origins of NASCAR, Chevy’s entry into the stock car racing scene was also less than legal. It wasn’t prohibition that Chevy’s drivers were racing against, but rather an order from General Motors, Chevy’s parent company, that banned racing.
However, this ban didn’t stop Chevy teams from competing in NASCAR events in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Supported by a love for the sport, diligent and skilled divers like Cale Yarborough, as well as the talented engineering teams behind it all, Chevy made a name for itself in NASCAR quickly.
Yarborough and other racers like Buck Baker won cups in their Chevys. The cars that these early champions drove were all iconic Chevys too like the Bel Air, the Malibu, and the Monte Carlo.
In the early ’80s, General Motors relaxed the ban on racing and that allowed Chevy to fully embrace NASCAR. Not long after, the legendary Dale Earnhardt would stack up wins in his Chevy.
All said and done, Chevy would win 39 championships, the most of any automaker ever in NASCAR history. According to Forbes, the gap between Chevy and the runner-up, Ford, is so large that Chevy could sit out the next three seasons and it’d still have more wins than Ford would have.
There are two main reasons why Chevy has dominated for so long. First and foremost are the drivers. Some of the most skilled and famous NASCAR drivers ever have driven Chevys.
For example, not only did Earnhardt drive a Chevy, but so did his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt Jr. has only driven Chevys in his life because he’s a big fan of the brand.
On the other end of the equation, however, are the cars itself. A Chevy in NASCAR and a Ford in NASCAR aren’t all that different from one another. However, the biggest difference, asides from the driver, is the engine that the two automakers put in its cars.
Both Chevy and Ford are no strangers to muscle cars, but Chevy always had the edge over the other companies when it came to power. The most recent Chevys used for NASCAR, the Impala and the SS, get about 800-hp and can hit over 200 miles per hour.
However, like anything else in life, all good things come to an end and after the introduction of a new car, Chevy’s been in a slump lately.
The Camaro ZL1 struggles to win a NASCAR Championship
Chevy debuted the Camaro ZL1 in 2018 but compared to the other Chevys that have competed in NASCAR, it’s been a dud. Like Forbes mentioned, compared to Ford and Toyota, for some reason, the Camaro seems to be lacking in power.
Chevy doesn’t blame the Camaro itself, however. Drivers will need some time to get used to this brand-new car and Chevy expects that may take a while. On top of that, Chevy blames the fact that many veteran drivers are retiring from NASCAR completely, and that could explain why Chevy hasn’t won any championships lately.
Regardless of this lackluster performance by the Camaro, Chevy’s committed to staying at the top of its game. Ford’s Mustang and Toyota’s Camry are tough competitors, but Chevy is doing what it takes to not only develop the next generation of drivers like the Earnhardts, but also to create the best car that it can make.