General Motors "Putting The Stock Back In Stock Car Racing" With New Chevy SS
Chevrolet on Saturday at Daytona Int'l Speedway “unveiled its new SS, a performance sedan, with NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon wheeling it into a temporary show ring in the FanZone,” according to Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Chevy officials said that it was “their first worldwide debut of a production car at the Speedway.” The car will “be available in showrooms later this fall.” General Motors North America President Mark Reuss said, “We’re putting the stock back in stock car racing.” NASCAR team Owners Rick Hendrick, Chip Ganassi and Richard Childress -- whose teams run Chevy engines -- “were on hand for the announcement, which the car company was also streaming live over the Internet” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/17). ESPN.com’s David Newton noted Chevy “may have pulled out of NASCAR had the governing body not developed the new ‘Gen 6’ car that returns brand identity to the sport.” Hendrick said, "It would have been a good chance. As a matter of fact, I'm sure they might have." He added, "When Mark took over, he said if we're going to be in the sport it needs to be relevant. … Mark pushed the button with NASCAR and I'm glad that he did. It sure paid off." Hendrick: "Mark kind of voiced that, that if we can't be relevant we don't race." Reuss said, "Any really successful motorsports activity has to have a really good technical focus on what you're racing, great personalities that drive it, wonderful people running the teams and the great fan bases will come.” He added, "Once you start losing any one of those things there's dangerous things that happen. To get these fuel injected, to get them looking like cars you can buy again ... and to have people understand what they are and what they represent from a brand and driver standpoint, that's what we were working on" (ESPN.com, 2/16).
THE GREAT UNVEIL: USA TODAY’s Nate Ryan noted GM “used Daytona's infield fan pavilion to unveil the SS.” NASCAR President Mike Helton said, "We can't thank Chevrolet enough for having led the charge on that. Backed us in a corner and said, 'Here's what you guys need to think about doing' and caused us to react ahead of our own schedules. But it worked well." Reuss said that GM “never threatened to leave.” Reuss: "We're committed to this sport; we don't play that way." He added, "We're here for the long haul. We don't use motor sports as an episodical branding and marketing event. This is who we are.” Hendrick said, "That's what our sport has been missing. That tie between the showroom and the car enthusiast that wants to buy a car and drive it to the track that's like the car we're racing." Chevrolet also announced that the SS “will pace the field for all four NASCAR races during Speedweeks" (USATODAY.com, 2/16). Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Newton wrote the new Gen-6 car “gets a good grade for its first real test.” Gordon said, "You as a driver have more responsibility now about how you are going to drive out there because the cars are going to move around a little bit more'" (ESPN.com, 2/16).