When Penske decided to drop Dodge in favor of Ford , Dodge was left on the outside of the NASCAR world looking in. They had no team to field their newly developed NASCAR Sprint Cup ride and things looked pretty bleak.
Things went from bleak to ugly, as Dodge failed to have its Charger ready for testing this week and reports indicate that this means Dodge is out of NASCAR for the 2013 season. There is no clear-cut reasoning for Dodge pulling out so abruptly, but many sources are pointing toward Fiat, Dodge’s parent company, having no interest in NASCAR and forcing the pull out.
Last time we checked, Chrysler – including Dodge – is what kept Fiat’s ass afloat this year and to take away NASCAR as a means of advertising seems a little odd by a company that knows nothing about the “sport.”
At the press conference held at 2:30 ET today, Dodge SRT and Motorsports CEO Ralph Gilles only confirmed that Dodge is dropping its NASCAR presence. "Following our thorough five month process weighing all options in the sport, we have decided to withdraw from NASCAR racing," he said in an opening statement during the news conference. "You have no idea how much we feel the pain," he added.
This announcement solidifies the elimination of the last rear-driven, V-8-powered factory car from the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Every other car on the circuit is now front-wheel drive.
Dodge’s last NASCAR withdrawal happened in 1977, and it did not return until 2001. By that pace, we should see Dodge return to NASCAR sometime in the 2030s... Actually, we are willing to bet that Dodge returns in just a few years, at the most.
UPDATE 08/07/2012: NASCAR followed up Dodge’s press conference with a statement of their own concerning Dodge’s departure. “Dodge has been a great partner to NASCAR for many years, and they have been part of numerous memorable moments throughout our history,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “They made a business decision not to return in 2013, as they did in 1977 before returning in 2001. We wish them well and hope they again will choose to return to NASCAR at a later date."
Click past the jump to read NASCAR’s presser.
gallery: Dodge Charger NASCAR
With the lone Sprint Cup team it backs slated to switch to another manufacturer, Dodge is pulling out of NASCAR at the end of this season.
The manufacturer is expected to make an announcement formalizing the decision Tuesday afternoon, NASCAR.COM has learned. Once a supporter of four teams on NASCAR’s premier circuit, the automaker entered this season with only one, Penske Racing, which will move to Ford beginning in 2013.
Related: Penske Racing moves to Ford in 2013
Although Dodge did unveil a vehicle the manufacturer expected to use on the Sprint Cup tour next season, the carmaker is not participating in a two-day tire test of 2013 vehicles at Martinsville Speedway this week. On Monday, Penske announced it would use Roush-Yates engines for 2013, leaving no organization to build Dodge engines for next season.
Dodge has left NASCAR before — the manufacturer pulled out in 1977 and then returned to great fanfare in 2001, with former three-time championship crew chief Ray Evernham leading the company’s effort. That incarnation of Dodge has won 50 races, with Penske leading the way with 29 under the company’s banner.
Dodge’s parent company, Chrysler, went through a government-backed Chapter 11 reorganization during the recent economic recession and resurfaced in an alliance with Italian automaker Fiat, which now owns a majority of the company. Under Fiat’s stewardship, Dodge has increased its participation in other forms of motorsports such as sports-car racing.
Its NASCAR program, though, has gradually dwindled in size in recent years. Evernham Motorsports, which won 13 races under the Dodge nameplate, eventually morphed into Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, which won a pair of events. That team was eventually bought by the ownership group of Richard Petty Motorsports, which fields Fords. Petty Enterprises raced Dodges from 2001-08 before becoming part of the current RPM.
The petroleum company Valvoline owned and sponsored a race car that was operated out of the Evernham shop and fielded as a Dodge in 2006-2007. Chip Ganassi and co-owner Felix Sabates also used Dodges from 2001-2008, winning six times with the manufacturer before moving to Chevrolet in a merger with the motorsports branch of Dale Earnhardt Inc.