The Mustang and the Camry got new faces this year, and that means those cars need matching redesigns in NASCAR. Both Ford and Toyota have taken the opportunity to sneak in aerodynamic improvements for their Cup Series counterparts with these production car updates. While we saw Ford take an aggressive approach with the Mustang front end with some sharp and tall fenders, Toyota appears to have taken a more balanced approach in order to maximize on every element allowed by NASCAR inside of that aerodynamic efficiency box.
The new Toyota Camry XSE Cup car moves away from the angular front end of the previous generation over to a flatter front end that resembles the “hammerhead” design elements of the recently introduced Camry production car. At first glance, the Camry Cup car appears to be more subdued than the outgoing variant but a closer look shows a variety of details that point to overall improved aerodynamic performance along with better compatibility for drafting tracks like Daytona and Talladega.
Starting with the basics we can see that the hood has been expanded to a flatter rectangular shape with new narrow hood duct exits that appear to have been moved inward. These hood ducts exits are one of the bigger elements when it comes to how the NASCAR Next Gen car moves air and Toyota has taken multiple opportunities to redesign them. These ducts are the third variant of how air is expelled from the radiator since the launch of the first Next Gen-era NASCAR Camry.
Moving down the hood towards the front bumper, we now notice a distinct flat area where the “CAMRY” lettering is located on the front. That flat area likely points to a focus on making the Camry draft better on superspeedways like Atlanta, Daytona, and Talladega, which require cars to be back to back. While Toyota has skilled superspeedway racers like Bubba Wallance and Denny Hamlin in its camp, it hasn't seen huge success on these types of tracks with the Next Gen car. Optimizing the car for better drafting should allow it to be more competitive next year. Increased Camry car counts in the field won't hurt either.
The lower grille area of that bumper shows that drafting wasn’t the only focus. We see elements of the production car bumper optimized for the race car with how the C-shaped corner vents are molded. The bottom of the bumper is also stepped to send air over the side of the car. The complexity of the front bumper is most notable with an angled look that shows the edge to be K-shaped in order to optimize airflow.
Looking at the bottom corners of the bumper shows that new step or ramp which is a notable departure from Toyota's previous design. It almost resembles a dive plane that we might see on a GT race car. These ramps are likely designed with control of front downforce in mind, but nothing in a race car's aero exists in a vacuum, so to speak. The ramps should also offer teams more options when it comes to car setup and how it relates to other aerodynamic components on the car such as the flat underbody.
Moving down the side of the car we see that the area above the rocker panels has been flattened out a bit. Gone is the small bump that was present just ahead of the rear wheel opening. The TRD badging has also been removed from the rocker panels as the top trim of the new Camry variant is now the XSE. While the rear of the car doesn’t see as many changes as the front, it achieves a lighter, more sculpted look in part due to the quarter panel styling that leads into chamfered bumper corners along with the thinner faux tail lights to mimic the production car.
Much like that production car, the race car was designed in the U.S. by Toyota’s Calty Design Research in California. “The 2024 Camry XSE race car will properly highlight Toyota’s attention to detail as has been showcased in the new street version Toyota Camry. We are excited to bring this car to the race track and continue to achieve success with it for years to come,” said Paul Doleshal, group manager of motorsports, TMNA (Toyota Motor North America). “The amount of work put into this car’s production cannot be overstated, and we thank everyone at TRD and Calty Design for their efforts in creating a premier vehicle for our team partners to compete for wins and championships.”
While Ford appears to have focused largely on performance at intermediate tracks with their latest Mustang racer, Toyota appears to have taken a more wholesale approach with the design of the Camry Cup car. The variety of aerodynamic elements we see in these launch photos appear to show details that maximize on the numbers allowed inside of that aerodynamic efficiency box set by NASCAR without taking drastic measures in any one specific direction. The Camry has been most competitive at the intermediate-sized tracks where the Mustang has struggled so it makes sense that they’re going with the opposite approach and trying to build on their performance at other styles of tracks.
The updated cars will see the track for the first time next week as a handful of teams kick off pre-season testing at Phoenix Raceway but the proof of how effective all the wind tunnel and CFD time has been will be the points competition debut of the cars as they hit the track for the Daytona 500 in February.
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