Today Dodge announced that it would be leaving NASCAR at the end of the 2012 season. The news may seem like bad news for the sport, but it is something that people should have seen coming.
Currently there are only two teams in the Sprint Cup Series who drive dodges and they are the Roger Penske teams of Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. However, Penske Racing announced back in March that they would be switching to Fords in 2013. An announcement that caught Dodge by surprise and they were never able to recover from it.
Ralph Gilles, who heads the Dodge Motorsports racing program, said he didn’t want to put all of this on Roger Penske, but it is clear that his move to Ford is the reason for Dodge stepping away from NASCAR. For the past few years, Penske has been the only major team to run Dodges and it was clear that no other team had thoughts of switching to Dodge anytime soon.
Penske was Dodge and when the announcement was made that he was leaving it was basically telling the NASCAR world that Dodge will no longer be a manufacturer in the sport.
Now there are some lower-level teams in the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Trucks Series who run Dodges, but Gilles said they are in the sport to win and they don’t just want to show up. He knows going against teams like Roush Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing is hard to compete and he knows how long it takes to build a championship team. He wants to win now and doesn’t want to help build teams that have a bleak future in the sport. Also, there is no way to get a major team to switch over to Dodge considering they have been set with their manufacturers for a long time and are highly unlikely to change.
With this news, NASCAR will be back to three manufacturers, Ford, Chevy and Toyota. Now will another manufacturer join NASCAR after hearing this news. There has been talk for a while on whether or not Honda would enter the sport, as for now there is nothing on the horizon, but with his news maybe they are more likely to start a NASCAR program. There is still rumors that Michael Andretti still wants to start his own NASCAR team, so if he does, he may be able to court Honda into joining.
As for now it will only be Ford, Chevy and Toyota. Dodge was slowly fading out of NASCAR and it’s time has run out for now and the foreseeable future.
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