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CUP: Chevy Executives Say IndyCar Project Won’t Impact NASCAR Program

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Chevrolet announced earlier this month that it would get back into the IndyCar Series, supplying engines to a handful of teams beginning in 2012.

That move, company executives say, will not impact its NASCAR program, which includes Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

Although those who oversee Chevrolet’s motorsports programs will have the IndyCar program as an additional part of their responsibilities, the money and personnel to run the program will not be taken from its NASCAR budget.

“Obviously we are going to add people to support the IndyCar Series,” said Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports Jim Campbell. “It does not affect us for NASCAR.”

The addition of the IndyCar Series program was made because of what that series has to offer – a younger fan base, a car that runs alternative fuels, etc. – and is not a reflection on what NASCAR provides the company as far as marketing opportunities, Campbell said during NASCAR’s season-ending weekend at Homestead earlier this month.

“The resources are available today but have to be applied in a very disciplined way, vigilant on driving the best results with the lowest expenses,” Campbell said. “We believe adding IndyCar will allow us to achieve [our] objectives.”

Chevrolet still is reaching its objectives in NASCAR as well.

“Attendance is down, viewership is down, but when we look at it relative to other platforms, we still have amazing [results],” Campbell said. “We will not miss that [NASCAR] opportunity.”

Chevrolet, like the other NASCAR manufacturers, is working on the design for the second version of the NASCAR new car targeted for 2013. That design is expected to give manufacturers more brand identity to go along with the safety features and common template aspect of the original design rolled out in 2007.

“As we go forward with the 2013 Cup car, we are working to push that envelope even further,” GM Racing Director Mark Kent said. “Each of the manufacturers wants more identity into the car. NASCAR, based one what they learned for 2011, they’re a lot more open to helping us work collaboratively for 2013 to meet all of our objectives.

“The ’13 car should be very exciting for all of us.”

As for what brand of Chevrolet it will use – it currently markets the Impala in NASCAR – remains to be seen.

“We are working on a car for ‘13 in collaboration with NASCAR that would look like a production car that would be in the market at that time,” said Campbell, declining to name the brand.

It’s been a good year for General Motors, which has gone from just emerging from bankruptcy a year ago to having the initial public offering of its new stock earlier this month.

The initial sale of the stock and its performance did not have an impact on the NASCAR program, Campbell said.

“The way we’ve approached that stuff in the process of us evolving as General Motors as a company is we’ve had a group of folks that have been working on things like that, those steps on the financial side, and everybody else is working on the core business – do not take your eye off the core business, which is designing and building and selling the world’s best vehicles,” Campbell said.

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