Dodge is one of the most iconic automakers in all of American culture. Dodge not being in NASCAR makes about as much sense as Toyota being IN NASCAR. Such is the world we live in.
Dodge only had one team racing in NASCAR when they were in the series and that was fronted by Team Penske. Penske had decided to move from Dodge to Ford after the 2012 season. Left with no one to race their car, and facing increasing financial woes, Dodge decided to pull the plug on their NASCAR program. Ever since, Dodge has wanted back in, but hadn’t been able to justify it. Until now.
CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sergio Marchionne, was at Daytona this past weekend for the Ferrari Challenge World Finals. Being in Daytona he was asked about Dodge and NASCAR.
“Yes I’d love to,” Marchionne said. “I talked to Jim France (executive vice-president of NASCAR) about this just last night. I’m the one that made the decision to pull Dodge out,” Marchionne said. “I am the guilty party at the table. In 2009 we came out of bankruptcy; we couldn’t (justify) racing in NASCAR when I was trying to pay bills and make payroll. I think we’re in a different place now.”
At the end of every season in every racing series there is always the rumor and hearsay that new teams or manufactures will be entering or leaving the sport. So when we heard NASCAR CEO Brian France confirm reports that NASCAR was in discussions to bring in a new manufacturer, we took it with a grain of salt. After all these things happen all the time and at that point it appeared to be just talk. However when you combine this with Marchionne’s recent comments, momentum surrounding Dodge’s return is increasing. begining to a clearer picture begins to form. There may be more to this then we originally thought.
No announcement is in the plans for right now. However something is going on behind the scenes. To many people are talking, and there is a glimmer of optimism in their voices.
“We need to find the right way to come back in,” Marchionne said. “I’ve agreed with both Jim and Lesa (France Kennedy, International Speedway Corporation CEO and NASCAR board member) to come back to the issue in short order.”
Exactly what the “right way to come back in” and when that may be remains the #1 question. right now it is all talk. Very promising talk, mind you, but still only talk. No decisions have been made but if you listen to NASCAR there could be a very real chance that Dodge is coming back.
NASCAR spokesman David Higdon, “There is increasing excitement around NASCAR. We continue to have on-going dialogue with a number of auto manufacturers about their interest in joining our sport. We look forward to exploration with them on this topic.”
There is clearly a lot of smoke around this topic, and as the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Something is going on at NASCAR regarding a potential new manufacturer. If you listen to Marchionne, there is a very good chance that this mystery manufacturer is Dodge. I don’t think this story is going anywhere, there is a very real chance that we have some form of announcement around Speed Weeks at Daytona. Stay Tuned.