Now this is one subject that’s likely to polarize opinion, the fact that a Toyota Camry, will pace the 2012 Daytona 500 in February.
A generation ago, the very notion that a Japanese car would be leading the field during a NASCAR race was almost unthinkable, now, it appears to be a reality. However there is some logic to this. The Camry has, for the last 13 out of 14 years, been the best selling car in America and since 1986, all of those sold here, have also been built here, at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant.
As the car has woven its way into the heart of America’s psyche it’s started popping up everywhere and it seems to have been greeted with a growing amount of enthusiasm, even amongst stock car racing insiders.
“NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway provide a uniquely American platform for manufacturers to display their technology, innovation and overall automotive excellence,” remarked Joie Chitwood III; President of Daytona International Speedway. “After nearly eight years of competing at NASCAR’s highest level, I’m pleased to have the 2012 Toyota Camry pace the DAYTONA 500.”
Toyota has been competing in NASCAR since 2004, beginning with Tundra pickup based stockers in the World Truck series. It has won five consecutive manufacturer’s titles in that series, while propelling drivers to the championship on three separate occasions (Jeff Bodine 2006 and 2010; Johnny Benson 2008).
In 2007 Toyota began running Camrys in the Nationwide Series and has since claimed 60 wins and three manufacturer’s cups as well as propelling Kyle Busch to the driver’s title in 2009.
Getting back to pace cars, Toyota has already used Camrys at the following NASCAR tracks: Auto Club Speedway of Southern California, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Dover International Speedway in Delaware, California’s Infineon Raceway, Kansas Speedway, Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, Nashville Superspeedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Richmond International Raceway; Wisconsin’s Road America and Watkins Glen International.
So, the very notion of a Camry pacing the Daytona isn’t perhaps too much of a stretch, though Toyota could perhaps use this opportunity to try and make the pacer at least a little bit exciting.
Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Toyota Camry Review or watch the video review after the jump:
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