It’s no secret, over the past few seasons, that Chevrolet — who have dominated the sport of NASCAR for much of it’s 72-year existence — have slipped to being the obvious third-strongest manufacturer in the sport as Toyota and Ford have each risen their programs.
It appeared that the bow-tie brigade had gotten fat and lazy with the spoils of their victories over the years.
Meanwhile, as Chevrolet slipped into a comfy coma, Toyota and Ford went to work and have been doubling down on their improved vehicle performance by luring young talented drivers as well as top-tier veterans into their programs.
The result has been an overwhelming flipping of power in the NASCAR Cup Series.
NASCAR Cup Series Wins by Manufacturer Since 2017
Toyota, which only supports five full-time teams in the NASCAR Cup Series (six in 2020 with the addition of Gaunt Brothers Racing), has muscled it’s way to the top of the sport. While they don’t have a lot of cars, the cars that they do have in their fleet are well backed by sponsors and they are of the utmost quality.
Ford was able to snag Stewart-Haas Racing away from Chevrolet a few years ago. When paired together under the same umbrella Team Penske and SHR pack an impressive one-two punch for Ford.
While this has all taken place, Chevrolet has seemed numb to the changes going on around it.
While everyone else got stronger, Chevrolet unveiled a Camaro body that was too pointy in the front to draft correctly at Superspeedways and it under performed aerodynamically at other tracks.
However, it appears that the sleeping giant has been awoken.
Not only has Chevrolet addressed their wonky vehicle design for the 2020 season, but now they are taking much more obvious steps towards regaining their seat at the head table in the sport.
Thursday, a new report from Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern, revealed that General Motors is planning on building a massive 75,000-square-foot technical center in the heart of NASCAR country — Concord, North Carolina.
.@GM this AM will announce that it will build a new 75,000-square-foot technical center in Concord, North Carolina, to expand its performance/racing capabilities.
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) January 23, 2020
After Stern first broke the news, General Motors confirmed the report.
This signals that Chevrolet acknowledges that the way they have been handling their NASCAR programs is not the way things need to continue to go if the manufacturer expects to be able to compete long-term. Finally.
The manufacturer will spend serious coin to build a facility to aid their Cup Series teams become faster.
Chevrolet will help their teams in NASCAR share technical information, including engineering. This will be a huge stepping stone for teams like Richard Petty Motorsports.
But the performance side of things isn’t the only step Chevrolet is taking to bump up to the next level.
Chevrolet has lost top-flight prospects over the years such as: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer. These drivers have combined to win five of the last eight NASCAR Cup Series championships, four of which have come after the drivers made a switch from Chevrolet to a different manufacturer.
Not only do Ford and Toyota feature Chevrolet’s past prospects, but in recent seasons the majority of the heralded up and comers have shied away from Chevrolet as well.
Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney — all of whom are emerging stars in the NASCAR National Series these days.
To combat the other manufacturers in landing talented young drivers, Chevrolet has instituted the Drivers Edge Development Program. And despite only being around for one year, it has helped bring a few talented drivers to the Chevrolet camp and it promises to do the same for years to come.
For 2020, the program has added Tyler Ankrum, who moves from Toyota in 2019 to Chevrolet in 2020. Ankrum was the 2019 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors rookie of the year, who won a race and competed in the Playoffs.
With Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch closing in on their curtain calls, Chevrolet needs star power. And quick. Chevrolet seems to understand this, and they also seemingly understand that their backs are up against the wall as the NASCAR NextGen car debut date approaches ever closer.
Chevrolet must deliver results now or they could potentially face being behind the eight-ball as NASCAR heads into the next generation of car.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.