Dodge leaving NASCAR after 2012 (video)
Generally when an automaker pulls out of a major racing series such as NASCAR it is because their cars aren’t competitive but that hasn’t been the case for the few Dodge Charger and Challenger stock cars running the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series this year. Even though there is only one major team in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series with two cars each – there is a Dodge Challenger currently in the 4th spot for the Nationwide Series and a Dodge Charger in the 7th spot in the Sprint Cup Series.
Sam Hornish Jr. has not won a race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season but he has been incredibly consistent in his #12 Wurth Dodge Challenger, finishing in the top 5 6 times and the top 10 13 times in 20 starts. Hornish is sitting in 4th place, just 34 points out of first place so he could definitely make a run for the 2012 championship. While Sprint Cup regular Brad Keselowski is not eligible for Nationwide Series points, he has started 20 races; winning 3, while grabbing 3 top 5s and 10 top 10s in his #22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger. These two team Penske Racing Challengers have also seen success with other drivers making cameo appearances like former open wheeler Jacque Villeneuve.
Over in the NASCAR “bigs”, Brad Keselowski has had a great season in his #2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger – netting 3 wins, 7 top 5s and 11 top 10s – helping him to rise to the 7th spot in Sprint Cup Series 2012 standings after 21 races. Keselowski fought through some engine issues early in the season to put himself securely in position to make a run for the Sprint Cup 2012 championship. Keselowski’s Penske Racing teammate for 2012 started out as AJ Allmendinger in the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Charger but after being indefinitely suspended for violating NASCAR substance abuse rules, he has been fired from Penske. His Dodge Charger will be piloted by Sam Hornish Jr for the rest of the season but in light of the failed drug tests, it proved to be a bit of a “black eye” for the Dodge team. Robbie Gordon began the year in the self-owned #7 Speed Energy Charger but as has been the case throughout his entire racing career – Gordon was not competitive. He hasn’t been in a Sprint Cup race in months.
In addition to the success for Hornish in the Nationwide Series and Keselowski in the Sprint Cup, SRT Motorsports unveiled a gorgeous new Dodge Charger stock car for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season – unfortunately, that car will never see the green flag. Rumors had been floating around that there would not be any Dodge cars in NASCAR 2013 but Ralph Gilles announcement earlier this week (you can watch the video below) makes it official that the Dodge name will once again leave NASCAR.
“We’ve spent an intense five months working to identify and evaluate all options for our future involvement in NASCAR,” Gilles said. “A number of opportunities emerged, and our team worked diligently to put a structure together to fit our overall business and competitive objectives. While we have been pleased and enthused with the amount of interest from teams and sponsors over that time, in the end, we simply couldn’t develop the right structure.”