There are two draws in the pony-car competition bracket: brawn-über-alles pits the 580-horsepower Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 against the 650-hp Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, while the track-day killers set the 426-hp Camaro 1LE against the 444-hp Mustang Boss 302. And all of them are eventually tested in anger at Virginia International Raceway, which could one day become our own Nürburgring based on the cars that have set times there.
Answering that challenge, the Camaro 1LE has just come from posting a 2:58.34 around VIR. According to the list at FastestLaps.com, that puts the Camaro 1LE exactly midway between the 2005 lap time of a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 at 2:58.20 and the 550-horsepower 2011 GT500 which did 2:58.48. For better comparison, the 1LE is 6.1 seconds behind the Camaro ZL1, 4.46 seconds ahead of the Boss 302 Laguna Seca, and within two seconds of serious handlers like the Porsche 911 Turbo S, Ariel Atom 3 and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, all run in the last two years (although we don't know who the Porsche and Mercedes drivers were). FastestLaps lists a time of 2:58.00 for a "659-hp" GT500, but the year tested is "0" and we aren't sure what the story is there.
Not a bad day's work for the $37,035 Camaro, which starts at a price nearly $13,000 less than the Boss 302 Laguna Seca. Don't take our word for it, check out the whole lap below.