Dodge to leave NASCAR at the end of the year
|By Diego Mejia||Tuesday, August 7th 2012, 19:51 GMT|
Dodge will pull out of NASCAR at the end of the year, the American manufacturer announced on Tuesday.
While the 2013 Sprint Cup models of Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota are put through their paces at Martinsville in a shakedown test, Dodge has announced its withdrawal from the series at the end of the year in an afternoon teleconference.
Following Penske Racing's decision to move back to Ford from 2013, the future of Dodge in NASCAR became uncertain as Penske led the development of its cars and engines, fielding the only full-time entries in the Cup grid and the Nationwide series.
Despite Penske's announcement last March, which Dodge officials labeled as a "business" decision back then, Dodge went on to unveil its 2013 car, but since then there had not been any clear indication of its tying up with a team to lead its competitive efforts looking ahead.
Penske Racing continuing to build Dodge engines for 2013, despite running Fords in its own cars, was initially a possibility but it recently closed the door on such option, also announcing Monday that it will run units supplied by Roush Yates engines.
Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of Dodge's Street and Racing Technology brand (SRT) said the "committee-level" decision was taken only last Friday, after it was unable to put together the structure it thought necessary to reach its goals.
He denied financial reasons played in the company's decision.
"Following the announcement of Penske Racing in March 12, we set up a detailed evaluation process to determine who our perspective new partners could be and specifically what the future would hold for us on and off the racetrack," Gilles said.
"We were initially pleased to see the vast amount of interest from teams and sponsors that came our way with a lot of interesting packages and ideas. We couldn't unfortunately put together a structure that made sense to continue our business and competitive objectives for next year.
"This decision was not based on budgets, even though we have diversified in many sports this year, this was really a NASCAR-centric discussion and the case of the different pieces of the puzzle not fitting together to satisfy the structure we needed to fit our overall business and competitive objectives."
This year Dodge has won three Sprint Cup races with Brad Keselowski, currently one of the leading entries into this year's Chase, while he has also notched up three victories in the Nationwide Series where his Penske team-mate Sam Hornish Jr is a title contender.
Gilles said Dodge remains committed to finishing its association with Penske Racing on a high at the end of the year.
"We're committed to and focused on the 2012 season with Mr. Penske and we're going to do anything in our power to secure hopefully a Chase win and also a championship potentially in the Nationwide Series," Gilles added.
Dodge had once retired from NASCAR already in 1977 but came back in 2001 with former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Ray Evernham leading the development of its cars though a squad built around the manufacturer's return.