The 2012 Toyota Camry will lead the pack at this year's Daytona 500. Toyota recently announced its all-new, seventh-generation Camry will serve as the pace car for the famed NASCAR race, slated to kick off the Sprint Cup Series season on February 26, 2012.

Undoubtedly expected to earn the redesigned Camry major publicity, the Daytona 500 pace car is a 2012 Camry SE V6 with eye-catching red and white graphics. Toyota's "Camry" script and the Daytona 500 logo appear several times on the sedan, which also features a yellow "safety car" light bar and gray-painted wheels.

"We're thrilled to be able to feature the new Camry in Daytona at the season's biggest race," said Ed Laukes, Toyota's corporate manager of motorsports marketing. "We knew when the opportunity arose to partner with Daytona that it would be an extraordinary way to highlight our new Camry, as well as reinforce Toyota's commitment to NASCAR and its fans."

While the Camry pace car will be in front of the pack at Daytona, the automaker will also be competing for victory close behind with its Camry racecar. Since 2007, Toyota has raced the Camry in NASCAR's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races, earning three consecutive manufacturer's titles in the Nationwide Series. The automaker also races its Tundra pickup truck in NASCAR truck series events.

"After nearly eight years of competing at NASCAR's highest level, I'm pleased to have the 2012 Toyota Camry pace the Daytona 500," said Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III.

Frequently referred to as the "Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing," the Daytona 500 is among the most-watched auto races each year. Run annually since 1959, the race's past pace cars have included several iterations of the Pontiac Grand Prix and Grand Am as well as multiple Chevrolet Corvettes and Camaros.

While the Camry is the first Japanese car to set the pace at Daytona, it's not the first import - that honor went to the mid-engine Porsche 914, which paced the 13th running of the race in 1971.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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