50th Anniversary Camaro SS, Roger Penske confirmed to pace Indy 500

Photos: Chevrolet
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Roger Penske will lead the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in a 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Camaro SS; both were confirmed Monday night.

The full release is below:

A unique version of the new, 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition will lead the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next month, driven by motorsports legend Roger Penske, who is marking 50 years as a race team owner.

It’s the ninth time Camaro has served as the pace car and the 27th time for Chevrolet, dating back to 1948.

“Chevrolet and the Indianapolis 500 have a long, storied history and it’s an honor to mark the respective milestones of the Indy 500 race and the Camaro simultaneously,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “It’s also a privilege to have Roger Penske perform the driving duties, as his team has helped Chevrolet earn four consecutive IndyCar manufacturer titles since 2012.”

Four identically prepared pace cars will support the race, all with exclusive Abalone White exteriors featuring “100th Running of the Indianapolis 500” graphics on the doors and the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway wing-and-wheel logo on the quarter panels. They also incorporate the exterior cues and graphics that are unique to the Camaro 50th Anniversary package that goes on sale this summer.

With 455 horsepower on tap, the Camaro SS pace cars require no performance modifications to lead the racing field.

“Chevrolet and Roger Penske are inextricably linked to the heritage of the Indianapolis 500,” said J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “When he leads the pack on May 29, behind the wheel of the Camaro SS, he will drive the race into its next 100 years and strengthen the bond Chevrolet and Indianapolis forged a century ago.”

For 2016, Chevrolet drivers will be looking to build on last year’s results of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” when the top four finishers were Chevy-powered, led by race-winner and Team Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya. It was his second Indy 500 victory and the 16th for Team Penske.

No other racing team has recorded more wins at the Brickyard than Team Penske, and it started with driver Mark Donohue’s victory in 1972. Penske and Donohue established their relationship six years earlier, when Penske transitioned from driver to team owner. They quickly found success in SCCA’s Trans-Am Series, with Donohue piloting an early Camaro Z/28 racecar, winning three of 12 races in 1967 and 10 of 13 in 1968.

Penske tackled the Indy 500 for the first time in 1969, while still campaigning a Camaro in Trans-Am. Donohue was his driver for both series. Later, racers including Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Rick Mears drove for Penske, with Mears winning four Indianapolis 500 races and helping solidify Team Penske as an Indy powerhouse in the 1980s. That legacy advances this year, as Roger Penske seeks his 17th Indy 500 title as a team owner.

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Camaro 50th Anniversary Edition

The 50th Anniversary Edition honors the distinctive looks and performance that have always set the Camaro apart. It is offered on 2LT and 2SS coupe and convertible models, all with Nightfall Gray Metallic exteriors featuring a 50th Anniversary stripe package and badges – and a black top on convertibles.

The specially prepared Abalone White pace cars differ in exterior color, but share the Anniversary Edition package’s stripes and other content features, including:

  • Specific 20-inch 50th Anniversary wheels
  • Unique grille with satin chrome accents
  • Body-color front splitter
  • Orange brake calipers (front only on LT)
  • Unique black leather interior with suede inserts and orange accent stitching
  • Distinct 50th Anniversary treatments on instrument panel, seatbacks, steering wheel and illuminated sill plates
  • 2LT includes RS Appearance Package.

The Camaro 2LT comes standard with a 2.0L Turbo engine rated at 275 hp (205 kW) and a 335-hp (250 kW) 3.6L V-6 is available. The Camaro 2SS features the LT1 6.2L V-8, which offers 455 hp (339 kW), making it the most powerful Camaro SS ever. Each engine is available with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.

Camaro pace cars through the years

  • 1967 – RS/SS convertible
  • 1969 – RS/SS convertible
  • 1982 – Z28 coupe
  • 1993 – Z28 coupe
  • 2009 – SS coupe (2010 model)
  • 2010 – SS coupe
  • 2011 – SS convertible
  • 2014 – Z/28 coupe
  • 2016 – Camaro SS (2017 50th Anniversary Edition).

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds