Ralph Gilles, the head of Chrysler Motorsports , announced on Tuesday that the Dodge NASCAR team will end its participation in NASCAR at the end of the 2012 season. Dodge’s top team, Penske Racing, announced in February that they were moving their team to Ford Racing next season and Doge said they were unable to find a replacement that will allow them to “go forward with a structure that met our standards.”
Dodge made the formal decision last Friday. The four car makers that provide teams for NASCAR, Dodge, Toyota, Chevrolet and Ford, Dodge ranks dead last. Chevrolet leads the pack followed by Toyota and Ford.
Dodge had been away from NASCAR racing for 23 years when it returned in 2001. They currently have two cars, both Penke teams, the No. 2 Brad Keselowski team and the No. 22 Sam Hornish Jr. team.
NASCAR recently announced their approved Sprint Cup Series race car for next season and that only the Dodge Charger, Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry met the necessary approvals. Approvals are based on aerodynamic tests which were completed last month. The new cars will make their debut at Daytona next season.
Gilles said at the time of Penske’s departure that he wasn’t worried.
“It was unexpected, but we’re ready for it. We’ve been knocked down a few times our history and we’ve come back.”
It was revealed this week that Dodge was having trouble securing good drivers and teams to field their cars for next season.
Dodge had originally had a deep bench of teams until the economic downturn left it with only Penske racing its cars. Chrysler had also had a period of flux when they were taken over by Fiat.
Details are sparse as to why Penske left. Gilles said only that Penske wanted Dodge to agree to a five year contract but the car maker wanted to maintain a greater degree of flexibility.
Gilles didn’t provide many details on why Penske left, but said Dodge wasn’t willing to agree to a five-year commitment because the company wanted to stay flexible.