Chevrolet's Monte Carlo brand will lead the field for the ninth annual Brickyard 400 on August 4th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after being confirmed as the official pace car for the 21st round of the 2002 Winston Cup Championship.

The 2002 edition of the race marks the sixth consecutive year the Monte Carlo has paced the NASCAR Winston Cup Series' finest to the green flag at Indy.

Kurt Ritter, general manager of General Motors' largest marketing division, will be behind the wheel of the Monte Carlo Pace Car as it leads the field to a 1:30 p.m. (EST) start.

"The opportunity to lead the pack to the start is, for me, a true honour," Ritter said. "However, I know I'll feel the pride of everyone associated with Chevrolet . our engineers, our dealers and our customers, as if they will be riding along with me.

"Chevy's captured over 500 wins in NASCAR's modern era, and Monte Carlo is, without question, the most successful nameplate in NASCAR Winston Cup history. As a recognized leader on the track, it makes perfect sense for us to expand our motorsports heritage by putting it out in front of the pack as a Pace Car."

General Motors' Special Vehicles team developed the Pace Car from a 2003 Monte Carlo SS fresh off the assembly line in Oshawa, Ontario.

Few modifications were made to enable it to perform its Pace Car duties in the harsh environment of professional racing. Under-the-hood changes include a revised fresh-air induction system, installation of a low-restriction exhaust and increased engine cooling capability, which raise output of the normally aspirated 3800 V6 to 230 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 250 foot-pounds of torque, an increase of 30 horsepower and 25 foot-pounds of torque compared to the production vehicle.

The suspension system has been mildly lowered, and the wheels are composed of special cast aluminium.

"We're very proud of this Brickyard 400 Pace Car," Ritter said. "On Race Day, it will represent Monte Carlo at its best, cruising around the track at the head of the pack. With a unique Superior Blue exterior paint complimented by Galaxy Silver ground effects, it really gives it that 'classy-with-a-wild-streak' look."

Among the Pace Car's brightly coloured graphics is the image of Taz - the Warner Bros. cartoon character recognized around the world. Taz is along for the ride as Team Monte Carlo's official mascot and represents how much more fun driving can be in a Monte Carlo. A limited edition Pace Car replica will be available on the market later in the year.

Chevrolet has paced every Brickyard 400 to date, a testament to Chevrolet's commitment to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Brickyard 400 pace vehicle assignments have been Monte Carlo (1994, 1997-2002), the C/K Pickup (1995) and Camaro (1996).

Chevrolet is also a major partner in the Indy Racing League, which counts the world-famous Indianapolis 500-Mile Race as its marquee event. Chevrolet supplies engines to a number of IRL teams and paces the field at IRL races with a Chevrolet Corvette.

The Monte Carlo will pace a total of 10 NASCAR Winston Cup Series events in 2002; however, the Brickyard is the only event to feature a car with the Superior Blue exterior paint and Galaxy Silver ground effects. The car at all other events is clad in a "Competition Yellow" paint scheme.