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The 2012 Toyota Camry will pace the Daytona 500

Today, Toyota took the wraps off of the 2012 Camry and TorqueNews correspondent Hawke Fracassa is out driving the new Camry right now but in addition to the grand unveiling, the Japanese automaker announced that the 2012 Toyota Camry will be the official pace car for the 2012 Daytona 500.

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Since the first Daytona 500 in 1959, the only non-American model to ever serve as the official pace car for the “Great American Race” was the 1971 Porsche 914 but when the 54th Daytona 500 begins next February, the 2012 Toyota Camry will lead the field – the first Japanese car ever to do so.

NASCAR has long been dominated by vehicles from Ford, General Motors and Chrysler but since joining the series’ now known as the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup, the Toyota Camry has been a major player in the country’s most popular racing leagues. To many fans, seeing the Camry compete in NASCAR even though the company has never offered a V8 rear wheel drive sports car (let along Camry) was blasphemy so to long-time fans of “stock car racing”, seeing the 2012 Toyota Camry may be a bit of a turn off.

However, even though devout fans of the American NASCAR race teams may grumble at the site of the 2012 Toyota Camry leading the field, this presents a great opportunity for the company to show off the latest version of the bestselling car in the US market. The 2012 Camry has an aggressive new look that could help it depart from the reputation of being a bland yet responsible vehicle – with the sharpened look expected to appeal to younger buyers who want a vehicle with some attitude. During today’s grand debut of the 2012 Camry, they pointed out the SE models with feature an even more aggressive front fascia and that is the model Toyota has chosen to pace the field at the 2012 Daytona 500. Toyota hopes that this sportier model will interest younger buyers, as the company makes an attempt to lower the average age of the Camry (the current average is a whopping 60 years old). In addition to the new front end, Toyota believes that putting the Camry at the front of the field of the most heavily watched racing event in the United States will help attract more (new) interest in their products but you have to wonder just how much the beer swilling, V8-driving NASCAR fans are going to lineup for the mild mannered Camry – even with a new exterior.

The 2012 Daytona 500 is scheduled to take place on February 26th, 2012 with the Great American Race beginning at 1pm EST.

Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the 2012 Toyota Camry Daytona 500 pace car that was unveiled today or go straight to the gallery by clicking here!

Other Toyota News:
Toyota stock investors look forward to flawless launch of 2012 Camry
The 2012 Toyota Camry is fully revealed by a Canadian Auto Guide
Plug-in 2012 Toyota Prius models set to hit in March or April
IMPRESSIONS: 2012 Toyota Camry
The new Subaru BRZ sports car to debut in Frankfurt

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