New Dodge Charger nose approved: The new Dodge Charger nose has been approved by NASCAR for the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season. The development of the Charger nose has been a cooperative effort by Dodge Motorsports Engineering and Penske Racing and gives Dodge better brand identify for the Charger while remaining within the NASCAR approval process. “With the introduction of the all-new 2011 Dodge Charger for the street, we worked closely with Penske Racing to develop the Dodge brand identity while maintaining neutral aerodynamics within the NASCAR rules,” said Dave Bailey, Senior Manager of Dodge Motorsports Engineering. “Coupled with NASCAR’s new common lower nose for 2011, the revised front end carries the image and character of the Charger forward in true Dodge performance fashion.”(Dodge)(11-5-2010)
NASCAR could run 'pony cars' in Sprint Cup: Next year will bring a host of important changes to the Sprint Cup Series, including a significantly revised schedule, new front ends for the race cars, the introduction of Sunoco Green E15 ethanol fuel and, at some point, fuel injection. But what lies further beyond next year is even more intriguing. With the next-generation Sprint Cup cars tentatively scheduled to roll out in 2013, there’s a strong chance that Ford will move its Mustang up from the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the possibility that Chevrolet could dump its four-door Impala Sedan for the hot-selling Camaro. And a Mustang-Camaro rivalry could be just the thing to rev up NASCAR fan interest anew. Today, the automakers and NASCAR are working closer than ever in trying to bring the audiences back to the tracks and the television sets. Brand identity, something the automakers felt was largely lost when the current Sprint Cup car was introduced in 2007, is a hot-button issue these days. And it’s one reason NASCAR has gone back to traditional blade spoilers on the Cup cars and next year will eliminate ungainly cow-catcher front splitters in favor of a more aesthetically pleasing design. The automakers want even more brand identity, because they are trying to recapture the old “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” marketing focus that was predominant in prior generations. In the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the newly introduced Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger, which were raced four times this season and will be raced full-time next year, already have proven hugely popular.B>
“The dealers are really excited about the Challenger running in NASCAR because it’s something that (Dodge) sells,” said NASCAR team owner Roger Penske, who also owns more than 300 automobile dealerships in 19 states. “These are high gross margin vehicles that they love to sell. When you start to look at Camaro and Mustang and Challenger, these are icons in the business.”
Jamie Allison, director, Ford North American Motorsports, said point blank that the automaker wants to move the Mustang up to the Sprint Cup level, with one caveat: It has to look more like the production Mustang than the current Nationwide car does. “We like to see our iconic brand in all forms of motorsports,” Allison said of the Mustang. “ ... Any further consideration of the Mustang would have to be complemented and linked to more brand identity to the car that’s raced. It can’t just be the current car of tomorrow. It has to be a progression beyond what’s in Nationwide.”
Chevrolet’s racing boss also wants more brand identity. “Chevrolet, in any series that we race in, we’re looking for three things,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s general manager and the man who oversees the automaker’s NASCAR operations. “First, we want to see technologies in the race cars that are applicable to what we do on the production side without driving a tremendous amount of cost. Secondly, we’re (wanting) race series to use biofuels, because that’s what we need to do going forward. Many of our (production) cars are ethanol-capable. And third, we want to see the cars that we race look like the cars that we sell, as close as we can.” Campbell would not specifically comment on whether Chevrolet will return the Camaro to the NASCAR ranks, as Ford has with the Mustang in the Nationwide Series. “That’s a ways off,” Campbell said. “So any speculation about what’s going to happen out there — I don’t really have a lot to say on that today. ... We’ll see what happens.” Campbell did make it clear however, that he wanted NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevrolets to look a lot more like production-model Chevrolets.(is part from SPEED)(10-19-2010)
Dodge President Says Challenger Could Race In Cup: Dodge President Ralph Gilles said that the automaker may submit the Dodge Challenger for Sprint Cup competition at some point in the future, replacing the Dodge Charger. Gilles said, "It's up to NASCAR," adding "the fans will tell us" what they want to see. Ford's North American Motorsports Manager, Jamie Allison said recently that the Blue Oval is considering bringing its Mustang brand to the Cup Series, if it performs well at the Nationwide level. The new Nationwide car makes its competitive debut Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.(Sirius Speedway)(6-30-2010)
Dodge and Chevy leaving NASCAR? not yet: The three major car racing circuits -- Formula One, NASCAR, and Indy Car -- have built a multibillion dollar business. Formula One revenue, including sponsorships and broadcast fees, is estimated at $3.9 billion a year, which is more per event than either the NFL or The Premier League of soccer clubs. Toyota has elected to pull out of Formula One because of cost considerations. The world’s largest car company has lost money for more than a year. Reuters estimates that Toyota has spent $300 million per year on its Formula One campaign. Honda (HMC) pulled its cars from the circuit earlier this year.
The Toyota retreat can be added to news that the Obama Administration has pressured Chevy and Dodge to pull out of the NASCAR racing series to save $250 million a year [the only thing ever reported on Obama pressuring Chevy/Dodge ended up being an April Fools joke]. The two companies have been pillars of NASCAR and there are no other auto firms with large enough budgets to replace them.(MSN's Money Central blog by Top Stocks writer Douglas A. McIntyre, an editor at 24/7 Wall St, who from reading his stuff is not a big fan of the manuafactures in racing or much of a fact checker using an April Fools hoax in his post)
HOWEVER both GM/Chevy and Dodge reps have said over and over, that both Chevy and Dodge are committed to the sport, for at least 2010 anyway.(11-5-2009)
Dodge on the way out?: UPDATE: Four months after exiting a U.S.-funded bankruptcy reorganization, Chrysler Group is about to unveil a product roadmap that relies heavily on vehicles from Italian partner Fiat while abandoning many of the U.S. carmaker's own models. The plan, due to be unveiled Nov. 4, involves the reintroduction of Fiat's premium, sporty Alfa Romeo brand to the U.S. starting in 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported. Chrysler also will introduce the 500, Fiat's tiny car that is popular in Europe, to Americans. It won't, however, attach the Fiat name to it. Chrysler meantime is preparing to phase out many of its current models, particularly Dodge cars, the Journal said.(MSN Money), doesn't mentioned which Dodge models will be part of the phase out or how this move will affect the teams in NASCAR that run the Dodge Charger.(10-29-2009)
UPDATE: According to the Wall Street Journal, which claims access to people who have seen Fiat's plan for Chrysler, many of the recent rumors regarding current models are incorrect, and Chrysler will incorporate more Fiat Group products than expected. Vehicles planned for the US, according to the Journal article, include a replacement for the Chrysler Sebring, based on a Fiat design. The PT Cruiser, Sebring, Avenger, Compass, Caliber, and Patriot will all have their final year in 2012, with even the popular Dodge Caravan ducking out; the Chrysler Town & Country will be Chrysler's sole minivan, according to the article, though historically the Caravan has sold better. The Nitro will also be dropped. To be kept are the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger.(allpar.com)(10-29-2009)
No new Dodge teams in 2010? Despite the announcement this week of Dodge's continued commitment to NASCAR in the wake of a managerial shake-up, don't look for any additional Chrysler teams in the 2010 Sprint Cup lineup. New president and CEO Ralph Gilles intends to continue the manufacturer's support in the sport but only Penske Racing's three Dodge entries [#2, #12, #77] are expected to be on the grid next year.(CBS Sports)(10-8-2009)
Changes at Dodge/Chrysler: UPDATE: Chrysler's new Italian management has once again shaken up the automaker's executive team, announcing the departure of two recently appointed brand CEOs and splitting the Dodge brand into two groups, one focusing on trucks and the other on cars. The moves, announced Monday, marked the second management shake-up since Fiat Group SpA CEO Sergio Marchionne took control of Chrysler on June 10 when it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Peter Fong, president and CEO of the Chrysler brand and the company's top sales executive, and Michael Accavitti, president and CEO of the Dodge brand, abruptly left the company, Fong for personal reasons and Accavitti to pursue other interests, Chrysler said in a statement.
Chrysler sales spokesman Gualberto Ranieri would not comment when asked if the departures were related to Chrysler's sales performance. Chrysler said that it would split the Dodge brand into truck and car groups. The truck group will be led by Fred Diaz Jr., who previously ran the company's Denver business center. The Ram brand consists of the company's new Ram pickup trucks, as well as its commercial vehicles. Diaz also will take over as lead sales executive in the U.S. for the Chrysler Group organization.
Vice President of Design Ralph Gilles will take over leadership of the Dodge car brand, which includes minivans, in addition to his current design responsibilities, the company said. The two men replace Accavitti, who resigned to pursue other interests, Chrysler said. Accavitti was appointed to head Dodge by Marchionne in June when Chrysler emerged from Chapter 11.
The company also said Fong resigned for personal reasons, and he was replaced by an executive from Fiat, Oliver Francois, as Chrysler brand president and CEO. Francois served as head of the Lancia brand, Chrysler said in a statement.(Michigan Live). No word how this could affect Dodge's involvement with NASCAR. Also see articles at the Orlando Sentinel and Detroit News.(10-5-2009)
UPDATE: The new head of Dodge's car brand says the manufacturer will continue its involvement in NASCAR. Ralph Gilles takes over the job from Mike Accavitti, who resigned after three months in the job. Accavitti's resignation came amid another restructuring of Chrysler, which went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year. The new plan splits Dodge into two brands, one for cars and another for the Ram truck. Gilles becomes president and CEO of the Dodge brand, which competes in NASCAR.Gilles says development and marketing of Dodge vehicles still works through NASCAR participation.(Associated Press/ESPN.com)(10-7-2009)
Dodge looking for more teams? Dodge hasn't given up on expanding its 2010 Sprint Cup fleet past the three-car operation of Penske Racing. The manufacturer continues to talk to several small teams with the hope of convincing them to run its product full time. Dodge lost four of its seven full-time cars when Richard Petty Motorsports, which fields the #9 car of Kahne, announced last week it was absorbing Yates Racing and moving to Ford next season.(see more at ESPN Insider)(9-19-2009)
Dodge committed to NASCAR in 2010: The head of Dodge Motorsports on Friday called Richard Petty's defection a "business decision" that won't affect the manufacturer's participation in NASCAR. Richard Petty Motorsports has signed a letter-of-intent to merge with Yates Racing and field a four-car Ford team next season. It leaves Dodge with just three Roger Penske-owned cars in its 2010 lineup. But president and CEO Mike Accavitti said that's enough for Dodge, which has had to continuously reinforce its commitment to NASCAR because of the cash problems that forced parent-company Chrysler into Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization earlier this year. "Dodge's plan - to be a championship contender in 2010 with Penske Racing and a solid lineup of drivers - has not changed," Accavitti said. "We remain firmly focused on our objectives to be the leading manufacturer in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, win races and compete for the Sprint Cup at the right level."(Associated Press)(9-11-2009)
Dodge committed to NASCAR: Dodge doesn't plan to disappear from the Sprint Cup series in the near future even it is reduced to one team, the CEO of Dodge Brand said on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. "We're committed to this sport,'' Mike Accavitti said. "It's a match made in heaven.'' Accavitti, who was promoted to CEO after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, declined to speculate on whether Dodge would lose Richard Petty Motorsports. RPM has been in discussions with other manufacturers and reportedly is headed to Toyota in 2010, although team officials deny a decision has been made. If that were to happen Dodge would be left with the three-car Penske Racing organization. Accavitti would only say that he values RPM as a partner. He added that RPM has been mailed a check for services that were past due after the bankruptcy was filed. "You really only need a couple of good cars,'' he said.(ESPN)(8-16-2009)
- Accavitti new CEO of Dodge: Amid all the hoopla over General Motors and its bankruptcy and its future, and its future in NASCAR, and the hot debate in the past few days about the fate of Chrysler and its NASCAR Dodge teams, a huge piece of news seemingly slipped through the cracks: Mike Accavitti, the long-time Dodge racing director, has just been promoted to president and CEO of Dodge itself, a jump up of about three huge rungs on the Detroit ladder. Accavitti, who hasn't made it to a NASCAR track in some time, has been a strong supporter of NASCAR racing, so his promotion would seem to bode very well for the sport.(mikemulhern.net)(6-13-2009)
- Chrysler-Fiat deal done and approved: The long-awaited tie-up between Chrysler LLC and Fiat SpA has been finalized, and now the company must get back to the business of building and selling cars and trucks. The two sides signed off on a partnership this morning that creates a new automaker to be known as Chrysler Group LLC, allowing the new company to emerge after a 40-day stay in bankruptcy. It begins operations immediately under new chairman Robert Kidder and Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, who is also CEO of Fiat. The vice chairman of the former Chrysler, Jim Press, has been appointed Deputy CEO and Special Adviser, reporting to Marchionne and responsible for restructuring the company to create a "new leaner, flatter" organization, Chrysler said. The new Chrysler combines the most valuable assets of the bankrupt automaker with small-car and engine technology from Fiat, which is not putting cash into the deal. Fiat has an initial 20 percent stake in the company, which will grow to 35 percent if Fiat meets three benchmarks. Fiat can buy a majority stake in Chrysler -- only after $6 billion in government exit financing loans are repaid. But Chrysler isn't required to pay back the more than $7 billion that Chrysler received earlier. Some of the bad Chrysler assets remain under Chapter 11 protection pending liquidation.(Detroit News)(6-10-2009)
- Penske may make bid for Saturn UPDATE 2 no move to NASCAR: Roger Penske says he is contemplating a bid for the Saturn automotive brand that General Motors Corp. plans to sell or shut down. While Penske has not yet made an offer, he said Friday a decision would have to come soon and that a number of unidentified details need to be worked out. Penske has a vested interest in the automotive industry. He owns the second-largest U.S. automobile retail chain in terms of sales, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Penske Automotive Group Inc. He also owns heavy-duty engine manufacturer Detroit Diesel and has race teams in the IndyCar, NASCAR and Grand-Am series. But Penske denied that he has made a deal and said published reports are ahead of the process.(ESPN.com/AP)(5-8-2009)
UPDATE: General Motors Corp. has struck a tentative deal to sell its Saturn brand to former race car driver and auto dealer Roger Penske. Penske, who owns the Penske Automotive Group dealership chain, told reporters on Friday that he plans to offer all 350 Saturn dealerships new franchise agreements. He says Saturn's 13,000 employees will stay on with the company for at least the immediate future. He declined to name the price for the deal. Penske says GM will continue to produce Saturn vehicles, though he is in discussions with manufacturers worldwide about building the vehicles going forward.(AP/ESPN)(6-5-2009)
UPDATE 2: Team owner Roger Penske has no plans to move Saturn into the Sprint Cup series, saying Sunday he plans to stick with Dodge for at least the remaining three years of his contract with the manufacturer. General Motors Corp. announced on Friday an agreement for Penske to purchase the Saturn brand. Penske said he would like to get Saturn involved in motorsports, perhaps at the Grand-Am level, but not NASCAR's top series. "We have three more years with Dodge, they have not let us down," the owner of Penske Motorsports said before the Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway. "We see that continuing. They are current with all the obligations they have. I don't expect anything different." Richard Petty, the co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, said last weekend at Dover that RMP's cash flow from Dodge has ceased since Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. "I don't know what he means by cash [flow]," Penske said. "They paid the bills we submitted to them and they're on time. I don't know what he's talking about." As for Saturn, Penske said the key was saving 13,000 jobs and keeping 350 retailers in business. He said the plan is to provide them with products that will make them stronger going forward. "We'll be sourcing products from General Motors for at least two years," he said. "We will not be a manufacturer. We'll be a distributor." Penske did say the Saturn Aura is "tailor-made for NASCAR," but that any such plans would be 200 miles down the road.(ESPN)(6-7-2009)
- Dodge support "on hold" Team owner Richard Petty says the Chrysler bankruptcy has put cash flow from the manufacturer to the Richard Petty Motorsports organization he co-owns with George Gillett "in a holding pattern." From the point of view of the Dodge Motorsports program, however, the commitment to racing is undiminished. "They've stopped everything," Petty said in the garage at Dover International Speedway this past weekend. "They went into bankruptcy, and they're sort of in a floating stage right now. They're trying to see where they come out of this at. If they've got new people running the show, are they still going to continue to back everything exactly like they are, or whatever? They're in a holding pattern right now. I think GM's that way -- I don't know about Ford -- and I know Chrysler's that way. The rest of them I don't know. I don't deal with them." Walter Czarnecki, vice chairman of Penske Racing, which has three Dodge teams, said the legal proceedings also have held up payments to his organization. "In the legal procedure, you have to file what's called a 'Cure Letter' that lists all the things that you are owed. And when it's submitted and approved, they'll pay. We have money that was due April 30 that has not been received yet and probably won't be received for several weeks." Mike Accavitti, director of brand marketing and strategy for Chrysler, acknowledged the reorganization has affected the flow of cash from Chrysler but affirmed the company remains committed to Cup racing and that at-track services provided to the teams continue to be available.(NASCAR.com/Sporting News)(6-2-2009)
- Judge OKs Sale of Most Chrysler Assets to Fiat: A federal bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of most of Chrysler's assets to Fiat, clearing the way for the American automaker to exit court protection shortly. Judge Arthur Gonzalez said in a court filing Sunday that he approved the sale, the major piece of a plan orchestrated by a federal auto task force. The plan gives a 55% stake of the new company to a union-run trust for retirees, a 20% stake to Fiat that can ultimately grow to 35% and smaller stakes to the U.S. and Canadian governments. Chrysler LLC was forced into court protection on April 30. The sale to Fiat means Chrysler could be out of bankruptcy within the government's original timeframe of 30 to 60 days.(ABC News)(6-1-2009)
- NASCAR: New evidence that Dodge, Chevy maybe forced to cut back: Much has been made of the extent to which Chrysler and General Motors' financial problems might impact their NASCAR participation. With Chrysler filing for bankruptcy, and General Motors expected to follow suit within the next 10 days, there is cause for concern. Dodge executives have said all the right things regarding the company’s participation in NASCAR -- that, despite the bankruptcy, no changes were planned. Now, there is evidence that it may be beyond their control. According to Automotive News, Chrysler wanted to spend $134 million in advertising over the nine weeks it is expected to be in bankruptcy, but the U.S. Treasury's auto industry task force gave it half that. “So if General Motors, which is wrestling with the possibility of a Chapter 11 filing itself, is wondering how much influence the task force will have over marketing, the answer is plenty,” the publication said. “Transcripts from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, which is hearing the Chrysler case, showed that the task force at least understands that advertising is a necessary expense -- even if it doesn't think Chrysler needs $134 million for nine weeks of car ads.” Meaning what? Meaning that, under bankruptcy -- and remaining in business primarily using government money -- the government is not hesitating to tell the manufacturers how much money they can spend on marketing, which is where the lion's share of motorsports funding comes from. Very little -- less than ever -- comes from research and development.
In the government is willing to cut Chrysler's marketing allocation in half -- and that's half of what Chrysler was asking for, not half of what it is used to spending -- then it may be a tough sell to convince the feds that taxpayer dollars should go towards supporting Dodge, which has won just one race this year, Kurt Busch's victory at Atlanta.(Orlando Sentinel)
- Chrysler (Dodge) to file for bankruptcy UPDATE 3: Chrysler will file for bankruptcy after talks with a small group of creditors crumbled just a day before a government deadline for the automaker to come up with a restructuring plan, two administration officials said Thursday. The Obama administration had long hoped to stave off bankruptcy for Chrysler LLC, but it became clear that a holdout group wouldn't budge on proposals to reduce Chrysler's $6.9 billion in secured debt, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the filing plans are not public. Clearing those debts was a needed step for Chrysler restructure by the Thursday night deadline. Bankruptcy doesn't mean the nation's third largest automaker will shut down. And the privately-held Chrysler is expected to sign a partnership agreement with the Italian company Fiat as early as Thursday as part of its restructuring plan. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would allow a judge to decide how much the company's creditors would get.(ABC News), NO word how or if this will effect Dodge's involvement in NASCAR.(4-30-2009)
UPDATE: Chrysler remains committed to the Sprint Cup series despite Thursday's announcement it will file for bankruptcy protection and form a partnership with Italian automaker Fiat SpA. "The partnership not only will transform Chrysler into a new, stronger car company with many strategic advantages, it will enable the company to better serve our customers with a broader and more comprehensive lineup of vehicles," said Mike Accavitti, Chrysler's director of brand marketing and strategy for Dodge Motorsports. "NASCAR is a strategic part of our marketing plan and the Dodge brand. We plan to continue our Dodge sponsorship and relationship into the foreseeable future." The bankruptcy filing was the first step in wiping Chrysler's balance sheet clean and beginning the automaker's rebuilding process. The White House forced the move after talks between the company's creditors and the Treasury Department failed to reach an agreement.(ESPN)(4-30-2009)
UPDATE 2: At first blush, it doesn't look like Chrysler's filing for bankruptcy protection on Thursday will have any immediate effect on the seven Sprint Cup teams backed by Dodge. Chrysler was quick to issue a statement on Thursday reaffirming their commitment to NASCAR. But how long, exactly, is the foreseeable future? Several people I [Lars Anderson] talked to involved with NASCAR on Friday morning, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, strongly believed that Chrysler would pull its NASCAR funding in 2010. (The company already slashed its motor sports budget by 30 percent this year.) Then the question would become this: What would happen to the seven teams that Dodge supports? That is the great unknown.(Sports Illustrated)(5-2-2009)
UPDATE 3: Roger Penske denied on Saturday a report that Chrysler will pull its support from NASCAR after this season. The Sports Illustrated report came on Friday after Chrysler announced it would file for bankruptcy protection and form a partnership with Italian automaker Fiat SpA. "Chrysler guys contacted us and said they were going to continue to support NASCAR," said Penske, the owner of Penske Racing and several Chrysler dealerships. "Hopefully, they can do that based on what the government allows them to do. We're cautiously optimistic right now.'" Penske is a close friend of Chrysler chairman Robert Nardelli, who reportedly will step down after the bankruptcy process is complete. Although the manufacturer has cut some financial support, he has been given no indication that it will pull out of the sport.(ESPN.com)(5-3-2009)
- Latest on Manufacturers troubles: Heavy storm clouds are hanging over some NASCAR teams at Talladega Superspeedway this week: Chrysler appears headed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy within the next week, and then Italian car maker Fiat will likely pick and chose the parts of the American automaker that it wants to buy and take a major stake in the Detroit company – and what that means for NASCAR's Dodge teams, like the ones owned by Roger Penske, Richard Petty and George Gillett is anybody's guess. The Obama administration has given Chrysler until April 30th to make a deal with Fiat before giving the car maker enough money to survive. Such a bankruptcy would apparently force the U.S. government to take over some key parts of Chrysler's business, perhaps some of the health care and pension plan aspects. Bankruptcy would apparently also leave all those Cerberus investors without much, if anything, to show for the billions they invested in the car maker a few years ago when buying it and taking it private. Fiat would gradually buy enough of Chrysler, or its parts, to eventually have controlling interest. One interesting angle – Fiat owns Ferrari, the Formula One powerhouse, though Ferrari is operated independently.
On the General Motors' side of the picture, GM officials say they plan to shut down virtually the entire company for about two months beginning in about two weeks….though that may be just a bluff, because such a shutdown could add tens of thousands more to the unemployment roles, through a major trickle-down effect. GM is under an Obama deadline of May 31st to get its financial affairs in better order. Like the Chrysler situation, the potential impact on GM's NASCAR operations are unclear.(Mikemulhern.net)(4-24-2009)
- Drivers fret about automakers in tough economy: As General Motors continues to be battered by grim economic news, those who drive for the struggling manufacturer can't help but wonder what impact it will have on their NASCAR programs. On Thursday, GM said in its annual report that auditors raised serious doubt about the automaker's ability to continue operating. The company has received $13.4 billion in federal loans and is seeking an additional $16.6 billion from the government. Tony Stewart, who has a long relationship with GM, said he believes the company is doing what it can to recover. "The biggest thing is we've got to get people to not be afraid to spend money again," he said. "GM is doing their part. The Chevy brand is building cars that are affordable and economic and efficient. From a manufacturer's side, that's all you can ask for. I think they've really responded and done a good job in that respect." Stewart said the fallout would be "tremendous" if any of the major American automakers went out of business. "I think it's at the stage now where we can't rely on the government to do it all for us," he said. "We have to take an active role ourselves. I'm not saying as drivers or NASCAR. I'm saying our country together. We've got to get off our wallets and go back being Americans again and living life the way we used to."
Atlanta Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith called on the federal government to do whatever it takes to keep the Big Three from going under. "It's an abomination," he said. "This country owes them." He pointed to the role Detroit played during World War II, when the car companies quickly shifted their focus from automobiles to producing the machinery of battle. "They saved this country during World War II," Smith said. "What if we get in another major, major war? Who's going to build things? We need to do whatever we can to save those companies."(Associated Press/ESPN)(3-8-2009)
- New Dodge Noses for 2009: NASCAR has approved a new nose for the 2009 Dodge Chargers, which should help the cars perform better on the so-called intermediate tracks of 1.5 to 2 miles in length. Those tracks, which make up nearly half of the Cup schedule, were the clear weak points for Dodge teams last year. “It’s very subtle changes to the nose,” said Penske Racing’s Roy McCauley, crew chief of the #12 Dodge Charger driven by David Stremme. “In fact, if you just took a quick glance at it, you might even miss it — some changes in the line structure around the headlight doors and things like that.”(SPEEDtv.com)(1-20-2009)
- Dodge: smaller budget, less team, high hopes: Although it will have fewer cars on the track and fewer promotional displays in cutting 30 percent of its NASCAR budget, Dodge has not cut back its Sprint Cup research and development for the 2009 season. The automaker hopes that even with fewer cars, it will have better results after a season where it failed to put a car in the Chase For The Sprint Cup. With Chip Ganassi Racing’s merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc. eliminating three Cup teams from where Dodge started in 2008, Dodge has at least one fewer organization to support in 2009. Dodge could end up with only six cars next season if the pending Gillett Evernham Motorsports-Petty Enterprises merger eliminates two more from the manufacturer’s stable, which also included Robby Gordon in 2008. That leaves three cars at Penske Racing [#2,#12,#77] and three or four at the GEM-Petty consolidation [#9,#10?,#19,#43]. “You want to have a portfolio of drivers that can at any given time deliver a top-five or a victory,” said Mike Accavitti, director of the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands. “We feel with the lineup that we have remaining that we can do that. … The seven cars that we have – or eight cars or six cars or whatever it ends up to be – will be sufficient. We can give Dodge customers a good show. We can give NASCAR fans a good show and we can represent the brand well.” Accavitti said that his budget was set and would not get increased by the authorization of the bridge loan for Chrysler. He said it will remain at 30% below 2008, just as it was planned prior to President George W. Bush’s approval of the loan last month. “The entire operation was contingent upon the bridge loans being passed,” he said. “It was a critical element for the viability of our company and we’re very appreciative to have that behind us and be able to move forward."(SceneDaily)(1-8-2009)