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The Fourth Turn
Author: Paul Gohde
July 27th 2012 -

NASCAR news to begin a busy weekend centered-around the well-kept secret that Chevrolet would compete in the Nationwide Series in 2013 with its Camaro nameplate.

Ford competes in the series with its Mustang and Dodge with the Challenger, but this move by GM will make the grid at Daytona in February look somewhat reminiscent of the Trans-Am series during the ‘Pony Car’ era of the 1960-70’s.

“Chevrolet is proud to bring the Camaro to the NNS in 2013,” said Jim Campbell, VP of Chevrolet Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “The Camaro Nationwide race car incorporates many of the distinctive styling elements of the production Camaro, including the unique power-bulge hood and deep recessed grille.”

“We’ve been working on this new Camaro for over a year, and I’m excited to have it approved by NASCAR for 2013 competition in the Nationwide Series,’ said Shane Martin, program manager for Chevrolet’s NNS competition.

Campbell also noted that company co-founder Louis Chevrolet raced together with his brothers Gaston and Arthur, with Arthur having competed in the inaugural 1911 500.
“It looks like (the Camaro announcement) is going to put us to work to get ready for next year,” noted Kelly Earnhardt Miller (VP of JR Motorsports). “I’m glad to see 

Chevrolet finally introducing this car with the pony cars from (other) manufacturers. Now we can join in and have us a muscle car-sports car; a car that has a lot of heritage.”

  • Nationwide Series practice dominated track action on Thursday as the Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt, ran 1-2. Kasey Kahne, Sam Hornish Jr. and Denny Hamlin rounded-out the top-five practice times. Kyle (175.836 mph) bested Kurt ( 174.700mph) going into Saturday’s qualifications and race.
  • Attendance for the Brickyard 400 may be in a flat period, but drivers arriving for practice still seem excited about the opportunity to compete here.
  • Traditionalist Tony Stewart has abandoned the notion that this is only an open-wheel venue. “I was one of those guys that when I watched the first Cup test here, I got pretty upset about it. This is the home of the Indy 500 and that’s all there should be here, but after a while I started watching a lot more and started wrapping my arms around it (the Brickyard 400). And then the F1 came and Moto GP. So it’s neat to see Grand-Am come in here now, and I’ve got a lot of buddies that race in the Nationwide Series, and a lot of those guys probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to ever race at Indianapolis.
  • Open-wheeler Cole Whitt is one of Stewart’s buddies who is thrilled to be here. “This is pretty cool. There’s a lot of history here, and this is our first race here,” noted the driver of JR Motorsport’s TaxSlayer Chevrolet. “Being the inaugural (NNS) race, everyone wants to run good. This is a place where we want to win pretty badly.”
  • Tracy Hines (USAC Midgets) and Bobby Santos (Silver Crown), were feature winners on the first night of racing during Lucas Oil Raceway’s 2012 Speedfest Thursday.

Hines started the 30-lapper in sixth spot and dominated early after a red flag stopped the action for 30 minutes. Several cars spun going into turn one on the second lap, and a late-arriving Adam Kramer launched into the catch fence, finally landing back on his wheels. None of the drivers involved were injured, but repair to the wall and fence delayed the restart. Hines took the lead from Kyle Larson on the restart and ran to a five-second lead. He was slowed by a caution flag on lap 81, but regained an advantage over Larson and Kody Swanson on the restart for a two-second win. The victory was his third of the season and his 13th USAC win at the track, making him the all-time winner in USAC National events at LOR.

Santos led the ‘J.D. Byrider’ 100-lap Silver Crown feature from the pole, and cruised to a six-second win over Swanson and Bobby East.

  • Danica Patrick, here to drive in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, said that there is a 50/50 chance that she would try to compete in both the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, NC and the Indianapolis 500 next year. “I would love to do it. I’ve said that all along. I feel like it (the 500) was always one of my strongest races of the year in Indy Car, so I feel like that’s something I would like to do, and maybe it will happen-maybe it won’t,” said Patrick who would try the two races in one day only with a chance to win. “The only way it’s going to happen if it’s with someone I feel I can have a shot to go out there and win because it’s unfair to the history I’ve had here and to my memory to do anything less than that. There are a whole lot of logistical issues to iron out if that were to be the case. But first and foremost, a good car.” Patrick’s Sprint Cup car owner Tony Stewart did the double-header twice (1999 & 2001), and with Patrick piloting a Chevrolet in NASCAR, a one-off Indy ride with a Chevrolet-powered team would be a logical connection if it was to happen.