Chevrolet is looking to regain its mojo in 2019.
At the conclusion of the 2015 season Cup Series season, Chevrolet was celebrating their 13th consecutive manufacturers’ title.
Although Jimmie Johnson won his seventh championship in 2016, the other two manufacturers on the premier NASCAR circuit, Ford and Toyota, have made significant gains.
Toyota won back-to-back manufacturers’ titles in 2016 and 2017, while Ford, thanks to the incredible performance from Stewart-Haas Racing, won the 2018 championship. It was Ford’s first manufacturers’ title since 2002.
Chevy’s introduction of its Camaro ZL1 model into the Monster Energy Series got off to a hot start with Austin Dillon’s victory in the 60th running of the Daytona 500. However, Chevrolet accounted for just four wins in 2018, its worst performance in nearly four decades. The No. 9 of Chase Elliott accounted for three of the four victories. During the 1982 Cup season, Chevrolet won three races on the year. Hall of Famer Bobby Allison won two of them, and Dave Marcis won at Richmond, his fifth and final victory as a Cup Series driver.
But Chevrolet’s vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports, Jim Campbell, is looking forward, not backward.
“Obviously (we) don’t have anybody in the Championship 4 for the Cup, so that’s disappointing, but I would say that as I take a look at a year in which we introduced a new car, the Camaro ZL1, and we have begun this transition that we all go through at different points,” said Jim Campbell, the Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports.
“Many veteran drivers have started to retire, and we’re bringing in a young crew of drivers. We had our young group that got a year of experience. You see Chase Elliott really accelerated his season through the back half with three wins in the last 14 races, and then (Kyle) Larson was very consistent all year long, didn’t make the final four, but proud of those guys.”
Elliott finished the season as the top Chevy driver in sixth, while the only other Chevy driver to finish in the Top 10 was 2014 rookie of the year Kyle Larson, who finished ninth.
The aforementioned Johnson snapped a 16-year streak of winning at least one race. Two of his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports also went winless — Alex Bowman and William Byron. Byron, though, who won the Xfinity Series championship in 2017, won rookie of the year.
“Overall, the trajectory of the season, not exactly what we wanted, but definitely heading in a better direction than in the front half of the season,” Campbell said. “When you bring a new car in, and you have change over in drivers, those are big moments for manufacturers.
“More work to do. But I’m really excited about what that means for us for next year.”