Despite today’s announcement that Penske Racing will switch manufacturers from Dodge to Ford in 2013, it seems highly unlikely that the automaker will withdraw from the sport. Millions of dollars and thousands of man hours have been invested in the production of a new, more stock-appearing Dodge Charger NASCAR body for 2013, and it is not expected that Dodge will jettison that effort and end its longstanding involvement in NASCAR.
However, the automaker is currently left with no front-running team with which to ally next season. Aside from Penske, Dodge is currently associated with just one other team; the semi-privateer effort fielded by Robby Gordon. Gordon’s team reportedly receives very little factory support from Dodge, as evidenced by Gordon’s inability to obtain a powerplant from Penske Racing after qualifying for last weekend’s Daytona 500.
With all due respect to Gordon, who continues to make the most of severely limited resources, his team is not the answer to Dodge’s problem. So who, then, might carry the Dodge banner in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?
|Dodge's Ralph Gilles has some work to do.|
Dodge SRT President and CEO Ralph Gilles has not commented publically since news of Penske’s decision became public earlier today, but sources say Richard Petty Motorsports could be high on the automaker’s wish list. FOXSports.com’s Lee Spencer quoted RPM co-owner Andrew Murstein today, saying, “We received calls from several manufacturers today asking if they could meet with us. While sponsorship is down… manufacturer support is strong.”
Murstein confirmed that RPM’s contract with Ford runs only through the 2012 campaign, leaving them open for a possible manufacturer switch. Richard Petty also had a long and fruitful association with Dodge in the past, winning multiple races and a majority of his seven NASCAR championships in Dodge and Plymouth entries.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing currently ranks as a second-tier team in the Chevrolet camp, ranking behind Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing in terms of both wins and titles. EGR could presumably become a more consistent winner with the full attention and support of Dodge, but sources close to the team say there has been no conversation with Dodge about a possible manufacturer switch.
Teams like Front Row Motorsports and Tommy Baldwin Racing continue to climb NASCAR’s competitive ladder, and could theoretically draw interest from Dodge, as well. But most observers agree that the automaker will need to recruit at least one team that is capable of winning in year one, to maintain its high-profile image in the sport.