By admin | August 9, 2012
By Richard Allen
Earlier this week, Dodge announced they would not be a part of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. This should have come as a surprise to no one considering that the manufacturer had lost its primary banner carrier when Penske Racing declared some time back that they would be switching to Ford next year.
Once the Penske announcement was made back in February, speculation about the manufacturer’s future and the possible pairings that could be made to keep Dodge involved in NASCAR racing came fast and furious. However, the reality was that there were virtually no places for the auto maker to turn considering the current landscape of the sport.
Rumors immediately began to swirl that Richard Petty Motorsports might be the team to take up the Dodge banner. This conjecture stemmed from the historical association of Petty himself with the Chrysler Corporation. However, this speculation was based more on hope and nostalgia than on reality.
But RPM does not build its own engines and would have been pushed for time and finances to take on such an endeavor.
There were also rumors of brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch uniting at the Sprint Cup level in Dodges for Kyle Busch Motorsports. But that team would have faced the same stumbling block as RPM.
Another option looked to emerge when IndyCar team Andretti Autosport entered into preliminary negotiations to enter NASCAR as a Dodge outfit. However, that possibility never came to fruition as time slipped away without the landing of necessary sponsorship.
When Penske decided to leave Dodge, that put an end to the only truly competitive option for the building of engines of that brand at the Sprint Cup level.
Quite simply, there just aren’t that many organizations out there who can build engines to compete at NASCAR’s highest level. When it is considered that Hendrick Motorsports and Earnhardt Childress Race Engines are locked into the Chevrolet brand while Roush Fenway Racing’s Roush-Yates Engines company is a Ford stalwart, the top engine builders are already solidly aligned.
The top Toyota teams of Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing get their power plants from that manufacturer’s TRD facility. This was another rumored solution for Dodge when the story was put out that the company was considering buying Penske’s engine department. But for an auto maker that is not on the best of financial footing, such an undertaking would not make good business sense.
In the end, there was just nowhere for Dodge to go that was truly feasible. All the major teams are locked down and no new teams are emerging in a time when corporations are not exactly lining up to hand over the amount of money it takes to run a top flight Sprint Cup organization.
The bottom line is, no one should have been surprised when NASCAR lost one of its four manufacturers earlier this week.
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