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What does the future hold for Dodge, Petty?

By admin | March 1, 2012

By Richard Allen

 

On Thursday afternoon, Penske Racing announced that in 2013 they will compete under the banner of the Ford Motor Company. The organization owned by billionaire businessman and racing entrepreneur Roger Penske plans to house two Sprint Cup teams for drivers Brad Keselowski and A.J. Allmendinger out of its North Carolina shop. There is also the possibility of Nationwide Series teams being added to the Ford/Penske partnership.

Penske ran Fords most recently from 1994 - 2002 with drivers such as Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield and Ryan Newman amassing 27 wins for the ‘Blue Oval’ in that time span.

So now we know what Penske’s teams will be doing in 2013. What we don’t know for sure is where this leaves Dodge, Penske’s soon to be former manufacturer partner, and current Ford team Richard Petty Motorsports.

Apparently Dodge has every intention of remaining in NASCAR as they have begun the process of developing a car to be used in 2013. As a matter of fact, it was the Penske organization who had done much of that development work for the company. Dodge plans to unveil their new Challenger that will be used next season during the upcoming Sprint Cup weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The auto maker’s options to continue are somewhat limited, however. The loss of Penske not only equates to the loss of a championship caliber team but also the loss of their only top level engine builder in Sprint Cup racing. Any new team to sign on with the Chrysler company would need to be one that can build its own power plants. And virtually every top team who has that capability is currently locked into some sort of agreement that would prohibit such a move.

After the Penske news broke on Thursday, Dodge released the following statement:

“Dodge has enjoyed a successful partnership with Penske Racing for 10 years. It’s a partnership that has produced results for both parties on and off the track. Roger (Penske) has made a business decision to accept an offer with another manufacturer. We wish Roger and Penske Racing much success in the future.

“We are committed to work with Penske Racing to compete at the highest level, win races and contend for championships this season.

“Our motorsports involvement isn’t limited to NASCAR. We do value our NASCAR program and will be evaluating the opportunities available moving forward. As those opportunities materialize, we’ll reveal our 2013 plans, not only in NASCAR but in other forms of motorsports.”

The emphasis on “other forms of motorsports” seems interesting.

But Dodge may not be the only entity suddenly left shopping for a new partnership after the Penske announcement. Richard Petty Motorsports may have also had its future clouded on Thursday. The team currently uses Fords with support from Roush Fenway Racing for drivers Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola. Will Ford be willing to support so many teams under the banners of three separate organizations going forward?

Like Dodge, RPM released a statement regarding the Penske move. “We welcome Penske Racing to the Ford Racing Family in 2013. Additional teams mean more information for everyone and that’s a very good thing from a competition standpoint. We have a partnership with Roush Fenway Racing and we are happy to be a part of the Ford Racing program. As we always do, we will evaluate all of our options and make decisions based on what is ultimately best for our race team.”

And also like Dodge, it is the last part of the statement that is most interesting.

Whenever there is any uncertainty surrounding the Petty organization or Dodge there is the natural desire to speculate about the two getting together because of Petty Enterprises close relationship with the manufacturer during the glory years of both back in the 1960s and 1970s. And the Petty cars were indeed Dodges before their recent joining with Ford and RFR.

However, this does not seem to be a likely fit for reunification between the pair this time. RPM barely scraped together enough sponsorship to field two cars for the 2012 season. Taking on a new manufacturer that does not have an established Sprint Cup engine program would seem to be more of a burden than they could bear. Their best hope for survival would seem to hinge on aligning themselves with a bigger team that can provide chassis and engine support in the same way RFR does for them now.

So, should that RFR/RPM partnership be dissolved, another such deal would have to be found.

Penske Racing made a move that they obviously believe will allow for greater success for their organization in upcoming seasons. But while that company now has a secure future, two other organizations may have had their futures very much mired in uncertainty on Thursday.

Topics: Articles |

11 Responses to “What does the future hold for Dodge, Petty?”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Penske has never been known to play well with others. There will not be any warm fuzzy moments between Penske and Roush. Although there will be an over abundance of we are family press moments. The reality is that you have two team owners that honestly believe 2nd place is the first loser, and neither likes to lose.

    To me the most interesting comment was the mentioning that Penske had a lot to do with the developement of the 2013 car design… Does Dodge care so little that they left it to Penske? Or maybe they don’t have the staff to spare. Their priorities may be somewhere else. And maybe that’s why Penske is leaving when he is.

    I don’t see Petty leaving it’s present situation unless someone throws a huge chunk of money on the table. Since RPM shared their suspension knowledge with RFR there has been a very good working relationship between them. Why mess up a good thing? Unless the RPM principles get a huge payday.

    Nobody has mentioned that the head of Dodge’s racing department, Ralph Gilles, is a big F1 fan and his interests lay mainly with road racing. And being owned largely by Fiat, Dodge may turn it’s attention to road racing.

  2. Russ Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 10:18 am

    The really interesting story is the relationship between Penske and Roush-Fenway. Historically Penske has not allowed his teams to be at the mercy of another competitor. So, will he assume the role of a SFR and just be a customer of Roush? Or will he develop his own cars and engines?
    RPM seems to be again in the role of where they can get the most money.

  3. The Mad Man Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Robby Gordon was took by surprise by the announcement. He’s had a technical support arrangement with Penske over the last few years. Based on a statement from Robby about what happened to his car at Daytona, it appears he’s building his own engines. With the way Dodge has cut back on their support over the last several years, Robby could be sitting in the catbird seat to reap the benefits from Penske’s move by becoming the sole Dodge team in Cup.

  4. Joe W. Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I think Petty should stay with Ford. Penske indicated he would build his own Ford engines like he did before. Petty can continue there relationship with Ford and Roush-Yates engines. The only up side to Petty returning to Dodge is nostalgia. And that doesn’t build racecars. Penske also seemed to indicate in the transcript I read that Dodge didn’t want to do a long term deal. I think Richard Petty and RPM would be far better served to stay right where they are. There cars are good and they can win races. A change could mess all that up. Of course I admit to being a Ford guy and would love to have as many Fords on the track as possible.

  5. Charles Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Think and this is just a thought that Ford mabe going to do a Indy program! That could have sealed the deal for Penske to return to Ford

    The new heads of Indy car are trying to end the ’spec car and engine” and return to different makes of engines, Chevy is going in with Gannisi infact I remember just a few years ago Ford courted Gannisi and he said he would do it if Ford had a Indy program!

    Ford didnt then but now mabe have interest in doing a Indy program with Penske!

    Would love to see Dodge have a presence in Nascar…its better for the sport..

  6. Iowa Guy Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Wasn’t one of the reasons Petty left Dodge the fact that Dodge wasn’t paying him the money they owed?

  7. Moe Foe Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    There is NO words or deeds that indicate Petty leaving Ford. RPM has a fine relationship with Roush that I doubt they will sacrifice for anybody. Petty left Dodge’s program because of the lack of support and if they did go back, i wouldn’t give them two years before they went the way of DEI (which is really where they’re at now; immersed in somebody else’s race team, but with Richard’s name on the billboard).

    Dodge is not gonna be in NASCAR soon, I’m sure. They tried to get it up to speed, but they didn’t have the wherewithal. No engine program except Penske’s, no one but Penske selling Dodge Cup cars, and very few victories over the life of Dodge’s latest excursion in NASCAR.

    Now, Penske has bolted for Ford. That is not gonna be a satellite team for Roush-Fenway. Roger sits second to noone. Penske will prolly take Ford’s notes, a few Roush engines and cars, and will be selling his own product before 2014

  8. Overra88ted Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Charles… get your facts right. Penske is the lead Chevy team in Indycar starting this year. Ganassi racing is the lead Honda team starting this year.

  9. AndyD Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I don’t think that Chrysler is a stable enough company that they can afford to keep competing in NASCAR. I suspect that they will devote any motorsports efforts toward the lower tiers of NHRA. Road racing is an option, but I don’t see a car that they can run unless Trans-Am is coming back. They’ll probably save that program for Alfa-Romeo (if it ever makes it over here).

    Petty would be a fool to leave Ford. If they revive Plymouth and let him paint the cars blue, then we’ll talk.

  10. Charles Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Overra88ted

    Read what I said..”it was just a thought”….

    Penske was the Dodge lead team until this year …..

    Plus I think down the road Ford could get back into Indy and this could lead to be a alliance with Penske…

  11. Russ Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Think Fiat, aka Chrysler in this country, is looking for the most bang for the buck. So, instead of trying to buy teams to convert they are just letting the Nascar effort die.
    The Viper is still popular in European racing, as are some of the models there. Also they have a major interest in a little company called Ferrari that occasionally races also.

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