And Then There Were Three; Dodge Leaving NASCAR After 2012 Season
With the upcoming tire test in Martinsville for the 2013 season only a few short days away, it became evident when only three of the four manufacturers who represent NASCAR’s Sprint Cup that one would not be fielding a team next season.
On Monday, Penske Racing President Tim Cindric added to the speculation that Dodge would probably not be returning to NASCAR, by announcing they would no longer be building engines for the manufacturer.
With no one to build their engines, the obvious became even more obvious since the only team that has shown a recent interest in running a Dodge next season was Furniture Row Motorsports, which was still waiting for a response from the manufacturer as of Monday.
Richard Petty Motorsports was rumored earlier in the season that a move back to Dodge could be a possibility since their current contract with Ford expires at the end of the 2012 season,and n ow with Dodge leaving the series those rumors can be laid to rest.
The move should come as no surprise when you look at the cost of running a team in the series, and even more from a manufacturers standpoint since it is not only their brand name that is on the forefront, but also the performance from the cars they run in the series.
Without a strong team backing the effort, it makes no sense to dump money into a program that would run mid pack at best, and possibly be a start and park team which would defeat the cause of giving the manufacturer the opportunity to showcase their product.
A year or two off from the series would probably be in the best interest of the manufacturer, which would undoubtedly give Dodge the opportunity to reevaluate, and further research and examine the data they have at their disposal to possibly make another solid comeback.
After all this isn’t the first time Dodge has left the series, and the last time they did it was for a 24 year absence which began in 1977. The manufacturer returned in 2001 with Ray Evernham racing, and since its return has won 50 races in that12 year time span, which includes 29 of them by Penske Racing alone.
This season could also be the year that Dodge finally gets another championship which has eluded the manufacturer since 1975, when Richard Petty drove his infamous No. 43 STP sponsored blue and white Dodge to 13 victories, and his sixth championship.
How ironic would it be to see Brad Keselowski win his first championship under the Dodge banner, only to see him in a Ford next season since Penske has already announced the manufacturer change for 2013, and not see a Dodge back to defend it?