Winning in just one of the top motorsports series makes for a successful weekend. But winning in five – that moves “successful” to the stratosphere.
Over the three-day weekend of April 11-13, Chevrolet racing teams scored wins in the top two NASCAR® series on the oval, in IndyCar and the new TUDOR United SportsCar Challenge with a convincing victory on the street course, and on the drag strip with the National Hot Rod Association.
Rookie driver Chase Elliott, son of former NASCAR champ Bill Elliott, began the winning weekend in his Camaro with his second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, this one at the legendary Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on Friday night. Saturday night, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick, in a Chevrolet SS, led a 1-2-3 finish for Team Chevy over Ford and Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup SeriesTM event at Darlington. Additionally, a top-10 finish by Chevrolet driver Jeff Gordon elevated him into the series points lead.
Meanwhile, 2,186 miles west, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen piloted the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to its first victory in the GT Le Mans class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on the tight, tough street course in Long Beach, California, over BMW, Ferrari and Porsche. Corvette teammate Tommy Milner had the fastest lap of the race in his Corvette C7.R, and that Corvette (with co-driver Oliver Gavin) in addition to capturing a podium finish, also won the Green Challenge, awarded every event to the most environmentally efficient entry in the class.
One day later, Mike Conway took Chevrolet IndyCar V6 power to Victory Lane in the Verizon IndyCar Series at Long Beach, leading a 1–2 Chevy finish over Honda.
On the drag strip at the NHRA Mello Yello Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina – just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway – driver Jimmy Alund paced a 1-2-3-4 Camaro drag-race finish in the brutally competitive Pro Stock class, over Dodge and Ford. Camaro driver Erica Enders-Stevens, who also has a win this year, had the fastest speed of 213.13 mph.
“Weekends like this are very special – and they’re special because they illustrate all of the hard work by a number of people both at and away from the race-tracks,” said Jim Campbell, Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “These wins are a result of consistent preparation, persistence and teamwork by drivers, crew members, and our powertrain and engineering teams.”
As nice as the trophies are, Chevrolet’s central motivation for participating in motorsports is that racing is the ultimate proving ground for new technology, and much of that technology applies directly to the cars, trucks and SUVs available at every Chevrolet dealer. It’s called “tech transfer,” and it isn’t just the transfer of technology from the track to the street, it’s also the transfer of technology developed for street cars that helps make our racing teams better. The brand-new Chevrolet Corvette C7R racer, for instance, shares a startling amount of technology with the car it’s based on – the 2015 Corvette Stingray Z06. And the turbocharged V6 engine that is currently undefeated this season in the Verizon IndyCar Series uses technology that includes direct fuel injection, turbocharging and variable valve timing, also found in multiple Chevrolet passenger cars.
“Right now, our teams are getting ready for the next race.”
We race because it’s in Chevrolet’s DNA, and has been for more than a century. “We compete in these series against brands like BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Ford, Dodge, Viper, Honda and Toyota,” said Campbell, “so weekends like this are memorable. But, right now, our teams are getting ready for the next race.”
It’s a long season, but Chevrolet teams are ready. Harvick, for example, became the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ first multiple winner in 2014 when he became the first driver to win from the pole at Darlington in 17 years.
“This is one of those places that I circle on the calendar every year,” said Harvick of NASCAR’s oldest speedway. “Most all of us know the history of this particular race track and what it means to our sport … You look at the names and pictures on that trophy that they have out there is something that’s pretty phenomenal to be part of.” Harvick, who won earlier this year at Phoenix, led Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and six-time and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson to a 1-2-3 finish for the Chevrolet SS.
Chase Elliott, who turned 18 just last November, won for the second consecutive weekend after winning Friday night at the track “Too Tough to Tame” in his NASCAR Nationwide Series Camaro.
On the sports car side, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen led all but one lap en route to driving the No. 3 Corvette C7R to victory from the pole in just its third race. “Taking the first victory for the Corvette C7R is very big for us,” said Garcia. “All of the Corvette Racing and Chevrolet guys have worked really hard throughout the offseason and into this year. A big thanks to them.”
Said Magnussen: “It was a great result for Corvette Racing. To get both cars on the podium and get the first win for the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R is fantastic.” Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner drove the No. 4 Corvette C7.R to a third-place finish.
In IndyCar, Mike Conway’s victory in Long Beach made Chevrolet IndyCar V6 power two for two in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2014. “We were able to bump past some people, and on race restarts we gained some positions as well,” said Conway, who drove to victory from the 17th starting spot. “So, great job by all the team.” Team Chevy’s Will Power, who won the series season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, finished second at Long Beach to maintain first place in the standings.
Finally, Jimmy Alund, Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile and Erica Enders-Stevens made it a 1-2-3-4 finish for Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stock at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Fifth Annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C.
Will there be more weekends like this in Team Chevrolet’s future? No telling. But we do know this: Every lap, every race demands 100 percent from all involved – and we can promise you we’ll deliver that.