The new 2013 Dodge Charger. Image taken by Chris Williams.
Image posted to Twitter by Doug Rice of Performance Racing Network.
France discusses thrilling start to 2016 season, new manufacturer coming? After two photo finishes and a bevy of side-by-side racing to start the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France joined SiriusXM Speedway host Dave Moody on Friday to discuss the early-season returns on the new aero package employed in the sport's top series. "Well it's off to a really good start obviously," France said. "It's not a situation where we're willing to say everything is perfect because we're always searching for terrific things on the racetrack. The low downforce [package], in combination with Goodyear producing a really good tire to match up to that, has given the drivers more of what they want and they're putting on one heck of a race."
The 2016 season opened with Denny Hamlin capturing the Daytona 500 by a scant .010 seconds over Martin Truex Jr. That finish was followed by a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway - the first with the new lower downforce aero package - that saw a record number of green flag passes for the lead (44). And last Sunday in Phoenix, Kevin Harvick edged Carl Edwards to the finish line by the identical Daytona margin of victory of .010 seconds. But it was the end-of-race, sheet-metal crushing aggression displayed by both Harvick and Edwards at the end of the race that most impressed France.
"You've heard me say many, many times, that's classic NASCAR racing when that happens," France said of the contact made between Harvick and Edwards at the close of Sunday's race. "But it's interesting to note that not all the drivers that we have, present or past, would have made the moves that Carl Edwards tried to do to get around Harvick. Harvick did a great job. They both did a great job. But that's classic NASCAR. We expect that."
In the wide-ranging 12 minute interview, France also touched on the potential of new manufacturers entering the sport, joining the current stable of Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. "There is some interest, and by a couple of different manufacturers and we would be open to that in the right conditions," France said. "I think a lot of the car companies are understandably looking at the terrific job that Toyota has done by partnering with NASCAR and the success and all the things that comes along with that. They've been an incredible success story for a car manufacturer looking to come into a sport that's very difficult to come in, compete and win every weekend. But there's an interest. And this is obviously the biggest opportunity in auto racing in North America."(NASCAR Wire Service)(3-19-2016)
Dodge not planning return to NASCAR anytime soon: It's the question all Dodge stock-car fans want to know: When will the manufacturer return to NASCAR? Not in 2014, that's for sure. While Dodge continues to discuss stock-car racing, according to Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC, "the timing isn't right." But Gilles is well aware that stock-car enthusiasts miss the Dodge brand in NASCAR's garages” so never say never. "We haven't forgotten about NASCAR," Gilles told FOX Sports on Friday. "We have a lot of pressure on our capital right now. The Dodge brand has a new chief (Timothy Kuniskis, president and CEO of Dodge Brand), right? He's an enthusiast. He owns a Charger himself, it's his daily drive. He has an older one and a new one. He gets it. He understands. But timing is everything. To get back in the sport is not an insignificant investment. It's something that we've said no to. This year is out of the question, but the future, anything could happen. The fans want us back, so we'll see."(FoxSports)(1-25-2014)
Dodge heading back to NASCAR soon? UPDATE 2 denied: Ray Alexander, on hand for the LX-centric Spring Festival 8, reported that Ralph Gilles told him that NASCAR funding has been approved, and that Chrysler is talking to teams. While no details can be provided, because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, this is the first time a Chrysler official has confirmed that the company is working on a NASCAR re-entry. Last month, Mr. Gilles told Allpar in New York, in answer to a question about NASCAR, "Oh my God, I can't talk about that right now. No comment on that." Chrysler's return to NASCAR presumably remains contingent on being able to sign up competitive drivers and support crew (e.g. car and engine builders).(allpar.com)(4-22-2013)
UPDATE: allpar.com has added an update to this post: While it appears that Ralph Gilles did speak with Ray on this topic, there was a misunderstanding as to the context. Mr. Gilles appears to have been referring to why Dodge pulled out of NASCAR, and was essentially saying that it was not a funding issue - the funding had been approved, but there were other issues. At this time we are awaiting clarification from Chrysler, but it appears that Chrysler had the money earmarked for another NASCAR run but lost key personnel such as engine builders and top-tier teams.(4-22-2013)
UPDATE2 - NASCAR funding story off target: Yesterday [Sunday], Allpar broke the news that Ralph Gilles had confirmed Chrysler's funding of NASCAR racing again. Unfortunately, while Mr. Gilles did say that funding for NASCAR had been approved, he was referring to the reasons why Dodge left NASCAR shortly before winning the championship last year, in essence saying that the budget was there for another season, but there were other reasons for leaving. In short, Mr. Gilles was quoted with the correct words but in the wrong context.
A Chrysler spokesman wrote, "Chrysler Group's decision to leave NASCAR competition at the end of the 2012 season was based solely on not being able to develop the correct structure to fit our overall business and competitive objectives." At the time Chrysler withdrew, Mr. Gilles said that Penske had offered a "one-stop shop" for engines, drivers, and sponsors that could not be replaced in a way that would allow SRT to race at the level that was desired, in the time available. Mr. Gilles was contacted by the spokesman, and confirmed that he did not say that funding had been approved for a new run, but was saying that funding had been approved for the current season, when other factors caused the company to withdraw.(allpar.com)(4-22-2013)
Dodge not expected back soon: Don't look for NASCAR to add a new manufacturer anytime soon. Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said during Friday's "Gen 6" test at Charlotte Motor Speedway that he doesn't anticipate another manufacturer joining Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota in the "foreseeable future ... the next year or two." Dodge pulled out of the sport after winning the championship last season with Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing, which moved to Ford in 2013. There has been speculation that Dodge might return in 2014, possibly with a premier team such as Richard Childress Racing that has fallen to third among organizations in the Chevrolet fleet. Pemberton said the governing body periodically gets "cold calls" from potential manufacturers, but none that appear ready to join the sport in the next few years.(ESPN)(1-20-2013)
Dodge and RCR? What's it going to take to get Dodge Motorsports interested in NASCAR again? How about an organization such as Richard Childress Racing? One of the reasons cited for Dodge's departure from NASCAR at the end of the 2012 season was the inability to secure an organization equal to Penske Racing's stature. Although Dodge representatives flirted with Furniture Row Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and Andretti Racing, nothing materialized from the meetings. However, what if Dodge could secure an organization that boasts six Cup titles, three Nationwide Series championships and two Truck titles? "I haven't talk to anybody," team owner Richard Childress said on Friday. "No one has approached me yet." Still, the rumor persists.(FoxSports)(1-12-2013)
Dodge hopes to return to NASCAR: The chief of Dodge Motorsports is hopeful that the manufacturer will return to NASCAR in the not too distant future. "Going forward, we're going to take the year off, evaluate the potential," Ralph Gilles told ESPN.com after a panel discussion on the future of motorsports at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association Show. "We also did a lot of data mining. Part of the issue our management team wanted was, what are we really getting out of NASCAR? We only have two cars out of a huge field. Are we getting our money's worth? Ironically, this year we got beyond our money's worth. How you can replicate that? I don't know. That's what we're looking at right now." The matter of returning to the sport, whether that is in 2014 or another year in the near future, is finding an organization as strong and viable as Penske Racing. The lack of such a team left Dodge with little option but to pull out in 2013. "The Dodge brand is interested," Gilles said of a return. "It would be hard to replace Roger [Penske], because Roger has a long-term deal with Ford. The capacity isn't there to have that right now. It's going to be tough, but we'll have to look at it." Gilles said the move toward more brand identity with the 2013 car could help expedite [Dodge's return].(ESPN)(11-1-2012)
Dodge to Withdraw from NASCAR at Conclusion of 2012 Season UPDATE 2: Dodge is expected to announce its withdrawal from NASCAR competition following the 2012 season, multiple sources with knowledge of Dodge's plans told ESPN.com. Dodge is expected to hold a Tuesday press conference [August 7th at 2:30pm/et] to make the announcement. Attempts to contact multiple Dodge spokespeople for comment were unsuccessful or resulted in no comment. Dodge was faced with a rebuilding phase beginning in 2013, after Penske Racing -- the lone NASCAR organization to field Dodges since 2009 -- chose to leave the manufacturer in favor of Ford Motor Company beginning next season. This isn't the first time Dodge has chosen to leave NASCAR. The manufacturer pulled out of the sport in 1977 and didn't return until 2001. Since that time, Dodge has accumulated 55 Sprint Cup victories. (ESPN)(8-7-2012)
UPDATE: SRT Motorsports announced that Dodge will withdraw from NASCAR competition at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Ralph Gilles, President and CEO - Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC, made the announcement during a media teleconference call. The decision affects current involvement in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series. Penske Racing currently fields two Dodge Charger cars in the Sprint Cup Series and two Dodge Challenger cars in the Nationwide Series. Penske Racing announced in February that it would end its partnership with Dodge, which started in 2003, at the end of the 2012 season.
"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."
Dodge has recorded 215 wins in the Sprint Cup Series, including 55 since 2001, and has been represented in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup seven of the eight seasons. In 2010, Brad Keselowski captured the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship driving a Dodge from Penske Racing.
"It's an extremely difficult decision to know that we won't be there for our fans next season," Gilles added. "It's important to note that we have not lost focus on 2012 or the commitment to our partnership with Penske Racing in both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series this season." Keselowski currently is seventh in the Sprint Cup Series standings and has three wins in his quest to make the 12-driver Chase field for the second consecutive year. In Nationwide Series competition, Sam Hornish Jr. is locked in a four-way battle for the season championship.(SRT Motorsports)
Transcript: see a full interview/Q&A transcript from Ralph Gilles, President & CEO, Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports at srtmotorsports.com.(8-7-2012)
UPDATE2 - Statement From Brian France about the Departure Of Dodge from NASCAR: "Dodge has been a great partner to NASCAR for many years, and they have been part of numerous memorable moments throughout our history," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "They made a business decision not to return in 2013, as they did in 1977 before returning in 2001. We wish them well and hope they again will choose to return to NASCAR at a later date. Our fans have a passion for cars and emotional connections to particular manufacturers, and that's why in 2013 we will debut new race car designs that are modeled after each manufacturer's production cars. This change is a direct result of feedback from our fans, who are the most brand loyal in all of sports."(NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)(8-7-2012)
Dodge Charger Historical Facts
Dodge Charger in NASCAR: 1966-1977
Total Dodge Charger Wins: 124 (six earned in winged Charger Daytonas)
Most Charger Wins by a Driver:
* Richard Petty - 37
* Bobby Isaac - 36
* David Pearson - 17
First Dodge Charger NASCAR Win: Earl Balmer, Feb. 25, 1966, Daytona Int'l Speedway, (40 laps/100 miles/2.5-mile track) - Balmer led one lap en route to winning the 100-mile qualifying race in a #3 Dodge Charger owned by Ray Fox.
Last Dodge Charger NASCAR Win: Neil Bonnett, Nov. 20, 1977, Ontario Motor Speedway (200 laps/500 miles/2.5-mile track) - Bonnett drove a #5 Dodge bought by Jim Stacy from Nord Krauskopf of K&K Insurance to victory in the season-ending Los Angeles Times 500, leading eight times for 96 laps in his first superspeedway win. Bonnett passed Richard Petty with five laps to go and blocked his last-lap maneuver to win by two car lengths.
Drivers Who Won in a Dodge Charger:
* Earl Balmer - (1966)
* Charlie Glotzbach - (1968, 1970)
* David Pearson - (1966-67)
* Richard Brickhouse - (1969)
* Sam McQuagg - (1966)
* Ray Elder - (1971-72)
* LeeRoy Yarbrough - (1966-67)
* Richard Petty - (1973-77)
* Bobby Allison - (1967, 1969-71)
* Dave Marcis - (1975-76)
* Buddy Baker - (1967-68, 1970-73)
* Neil Bonnett - (1977)
* Bobby Isaac - (1968-1972)
NASCAR Drivers Who Drove a Charger During a Championship Season:
* David Pearson (1966)
* Bobby Isaac (1970)
* Richard Petty (1972, 1974, 1975)
WINGED WARS: Sept. 14, 1969 - Richard Brickhouse's #99 Nichels Engineering Dodge Charger Daytona (originally to be driven by Charlie Glotzbach) is the first "winged" stock car to win a NASCAR race. Brickhouse earns his first and only career victory amid a Professional Drivers Association boycotted Talladega 500 - the inaugural race at Alabama Int'l Motor Speedway.
200.447 MPH: March 24, 1970 - Buddy Baker becomes auto racing's first driver officially timed completing a closed-course lap at more than 200 miles per hour. Baker piloted his Cotton Owens owned #88 Dodge Charger Daytona to a top lap speed of 200.447 mph at Talladega Superspeedway.
(these stats are before the 2001 season when Dodge returned to the sport)
Last Dodge to run in Winston Cup was #76-Phil Good at Pocono on June 8, 1985
Last Chrysler to run in Winston Cup was #78-Phil Good at Dover on Sept 15, 1985
Last Dodge to win a Winston Cup race was #5-Neil Bonnett at Ontario, CA on Nov 20, 1977
Last Dodge to win a Winston Cup Pole was #5-Neil Bonnett at Bristol, TN in April 1978
Last time a Dodge won the pole at Daytona was by Buddy Baker in 1973.
Last Dodge Daytona 500 victory was by Richard Petty in 1974.
Last time a Dodge competed in the Daytona 500 was by Rick Baldwin in 1983
Happy Hour Practice:
Friday, April 29, 2016, 4:30pm/et
TV: FoxSports1 4:30pm/et