Here’s the Low-Down on the First-Ever Daytona 500 Chevrolet Silverado Pace Truck

One of the sport's biggest stars, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will pilot the Chevy. 

Chevrolet

The Great American Race this year is being led for the first time by a pickup. The truck? The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. As a special bonus, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be leading the field to the start line for the 61st running of the Daytona 500.

“The Daytona 500 weekend is home to some of the most memorable moments in racing,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance and motorsports. “This is an exciting opportunity to introduce the strongest, most advanced Silverado ever to race fans all weekend long.”

Chevrolet

The pace truck, at least visually, is an RST trim. Under the hood is everyone's favorite small block, the 6.2-liter V-8 making 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. All 6.2-equipped Silverados run GM's new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Keen readers will quickly point out that the RST trim isn't available with the 6.2-liter and only the smaller 5.3-liter V-8. The trucks actually started their lives at LTZs and then were painted Northsky Blue as part of the changes for race duty. Of course, appropriate lights were added.

Even though there were a few cosmetic changes, the trucks mechanically are stock, with no extra changes added. 

While caution speed is set to 70 miles per hour, The Drive was provided a hot lap in the truck with a pro driver exceeding 100 mph. Ford's F-150 Limited might make more power, but the Silverado's big V-8 sounds at home on the track.

It makes sense for a truck to pace the Friday night NASCAR truck race, but it might seem a bit odd to see it leading a pace of Camaros, Mustangs, and Camrys. But trucks are king these days and Chevrolet wanted to show off their new half-ton rig in front of the crowd.

It's also a day of pride for the truck team. Silverado 1500 engineer Tim Asoklis was with us during our hot lap, seeing his baby on one of the most famous racing circuits in the world.

Chevrolet

"I've worked on the truck for three years, finding solutions to problems. Now I get to see it come full circle and see it on the track," said Asoklis, talking about how special the experience is.

Silverado had a strong year of sales in 2018, with the new truck launching mid-year. Total Silverado sales hit 585,581 in 2018, which is virtually flat with the year before. However, not losing sales at all while switching to an all-new truck is impressive.

The 61st running of the Daytona 500 will feature William Byron in a Chevrolet on the pole.