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)
Brad Keselowski Wins 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship: #2-Brad Keselowski won the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship today at Homestead-Miami Speedway, earning owner Roger Penske’s first title in NASCAR’s premier series. For owner Penske, the wait that began before Keselowski was born (1984) finally is over. Penske Racing, which entered the NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 1972, ended the longest non-championship streak among current ownership. Penske’s best previous finish was second in 1993 with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Wallace. To be the best, Keselowski had to beat the best – #48-Jimmie Johnson. The pair traded the lead of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup five times, the last on Nov. 11 at Phoenix International Raceway where Keselowski finished sixth and Johnson – the victim of an accident – placed 32nd.
Keselowski’s 15th-place finish in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was all it took to apply the finishing touches to a stellar championship season. Keselowski’s championship came in his 125th start, the fewest since Jeff Gordon captured his first of four titles in 1995 in 93 starts.
At age 28, Keselowski is the eighth-youngest competitor to win a first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Keselowski previously won the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series title, owner Penske’s first in NASCAR. He joins Bobby Labonte as the only drivers to win both a NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. After experiencing mechanical problems in two of the first three regular season races, Keselowski’s #2 Penske Racing Dodge won at Bristol Motor Speedway to begin a steady march toward the top 10. Backed by championship crew chief Paul Wolfe, Keselowski won three times during the regular season and entered the Chase seeded fourth. A victory at the Chase-opening Chicagoland Speedway race, followed by another at Dover International Speedway, boosted Keselowski from contender to co-favorite with Johnson. Dodge won its fifth series championship, and first since 1975 with Richard Petty.(NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)(11-18-2012)
Dodge going for first driver championship since 1975: Dodge's #2-Brad Keselowski leads the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a 20-point advantage over Jimmie Johnson. All other Chase drivers have been mathematically eliminated. Dodge is seeking its first Sprint Cup Series championship since 1975 (Richard Petty). Dodge teams have recorded 57 victories since the manufacturer's return to NASCAR's premier series in 2001. Dodge has posted wins each season since its return in 2001 including seven wins twice (2002 and 2006). Dodge has seven NASCAR driver's championships – 7 (Cup: David Pearson (1966) Bobby Isaac (1970) Richard Petty (1974, '75) Nationwide Brad Keselowski (2010) NCWTS: Bobby Hamilton (2004) Ted Musgrave (2005).(SRT/Dodge/RAM Motorsports PR), NOTE: this week's Homestead race will signal farewell – for now anyway – for the Dodges wheeled by Keselowski. Dodge won its first race in 1953 with Lee Petty, its last driver championship in 1975 with Richard Petty and rejoined the series with manufacturer-supported teams in 2001. Keselowski's five 2012 victories bring Dodge's win total to 217.(NASCAR)(11-14-2012)
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 will skip first test for 2013 cars: While Dodge has a car approved for 2013, it will skip the first tire test for the 2013 car next week at Martinsville Speedway. Dodge is still looking for teams to campaign its 2013 Dodge Charger in Sprint Cup. Its only manufacturer-backed team, Penske Racing, announced in March that it would switch to Ford. Since that announcement, Dodge has continued to meet all the deadlines and work on its 2013 body despite not having a team signed for 2013. "Earlier this week, NASCAR announced that all four manufacturers have met the necessary targets for their 2013 Sprint Cup Series race cars," said Beth Paretta, director of marketing and operations for the SRT Brand and Motorsports. Due to the lack of time to prepare for the on-track test for the 2013 cars scheduled next week at Martinsville, we have elected to forgo that test opportunity." Scheduled to test the cars next week are #29-Kevin Harvick and #48-Jimmie Johnson in Chevrolets, #99-Carl Edwards in a Ford and #56-Martin Truex Jr. in a Toyota. Even though it will miss this test, there will be plenty of tests for Dodge to participate in and get ready for 2013 if it signs teams to run its cars.(Sporting News)(8-2-2012)
NASCAR schedules tests for 2013 cars: Fans can watch: Cup teams will have the 2013 model for an Aug. 7-8 test at Martinsville Speedway that is aimed at rules tweaks to make the cars lighter and help Goodyear develop tires with more grip to improve racing. The 2013 car also will be tested Oct. 4 at Talladega Superspeedway, Oct. 9-10 at Texas Motor Speedway and Oct. 18 at Kansas Speedway. Dodge is taking part in the tests. The manufacturer hasn't announced any replacements for Penske Racing, which will join Ford next year.(USA Today)(8-1-2012)
UPDATE: Martinsville Speedway's grandstands will be open to fans free-of-charge for an August 7 and 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Goodyear tire test at the historic half-mile oval. The test will feature the new 2013 Sprint Cup cars. The test session will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with an hour break at noon. Gates will open at 8 a.m. each of the two days and will remain open until 5 p.m. Restrooms will be open both days, but concession stands will not be operating. Fans may bring refreshments into the grandstands.(Martinsville Speedway)(8-4-2012)
OEM meet targets for 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Car: Based upon the final aerodynamic test results from July 18, NASCAR has announced that all four of its Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have met the necessary targets for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car. This represents another step forward in the new car process and means manufacturers can begin making parts and pieces for the new models. The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car is the result of more than two years of collaborative efforts between the manufacturers and NASCAR. With goals of enhancing product relevance, featuring race cars that more closely resemble their respective manufacturer models on the showroom floor, and building upon the highly competitive racing the series features, the roll out of the new car is highly anticipated by NASCAR fans.
The four new models – Chevrolet’s SS, Dodge’s Charger, Ford’s Fusion and Toyota’s Camry – will make their race debuts next February at Daytona International Speedway, with the first championship points event being the 55th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 24, 2013.
“We commend the manufacturers and our team at the R&D center on all the hard work they’ve put into this new car,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “With all the designs and surface areas of the car now approved, manufacturers can now move forward with building the components needed to outfit their cars. The wind tunnel testing we’ve had with the manufacturers over the past several months has given us the timely and necessary data we needed to come to this confirmation. We believe the new car is going to be a milestone opportunity for our sport, one that our fans will embrace.”(NASCAR)(7-30-2012)
Penske still undecided about future engine program: Roger Penske, who announced in March that his Penske Racing team would move from fielding Dodges to Fords, still has not made a final decision on whether to build his own engines, lease them from Roush Yates Engines or possibly become a partner in Roush Yates Engines. The Penske engine shop is not located at its main car manufacturing facility in North Carolina and could be spun off into a Dodge engine building facility. “We’re still trying to finish up the final discussion with Dodge, what they’re going to do,” Penske said. “We obviously have the option with Roush Yates, which we’re looking at also.”(Sporting News)(7-30-2012)
Dodge buying Penske's engine program? For those worried about Dodge perhaps folding its tent at the end of 2012, without any teams yet on its 2013 NASCAR roster, the good news is that Chrysler officials, according to company sources, have just ordered a full inventory of Penske's NASCAR engine operation (80-men strong), with firm indications the company will buy Penske's Dodge operation and go into the NASCAR 'customer engine' business itself, just as Toyota does with its Los Angeles-based TRD NASCAR engine building program. Such a move by Chrysler would open the door for someone like Michael Andretti to venture into NASCAR with a new Sprint Cup team (even though Penske himself has warned Andretti that running a NASCAR team requires five times as many people and three times as much money to operate as an Indy-car team). One Dodge question is whether the Richard Petty two-car team, currently fielding Fords, with factory support, would stick with Ford or move to Dodge.(MikeMulhern.net)(7-7-2012)
NASCAR to test new 2013 cars: NASCAR is closing in on approving the 2013 Sprint Cup cars. The sanctioning body could sign off on the new models as early as next week. NASCAR has a two-day wind tunnel test scheduled at AeroDyn in Mooresville, N.C., for July 2 and 3. All four manufacturers will put their body panels over a uniform chassis provided by NASCAR. Each of the manufacturers - Chevy, Ford, Dodge and Toyota - will be expected to hit the established target numbers for drag and downforce with their cars. "Hopefully, when we go there we'll be able to complete the (development) process and then the manufacturers can start building parts and teams can start building cars for 2013," said NASCAR template manager Billy Berkheimer. Pat Suhy, General Motors Racing NASCAR group manager, says the tooling process for the sheet metal will take about six weeks to complete. Teams are already working on the green area of the car or the area over the cockpit. Suhy added that the new cars will all participate in an upcoming Goodyear tire test in August. Going forward, only the new cars will be used during testing.(Fox Sports)(6-26-2012)
Dodge future plans still up in the air: Dodge fans – and potential racing partners – wondering what direction the manufacturer will take in NASCAR beyond 2013 will have to wait a while longer. Ralph Gilles, vice president for product design at Chrysler, was expected to be in Le Mans this weekend, but high level meetings kept the Dodge executive stateside this weekend. FOXSports.com caught up with Gilles following the drivers meeting at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday to ascertain Dodge’s future in NASCAR.
FOXSports: Will Dodge be in NASCAR in 2013?
Gilles: That’s the one question I can’t answer this weekend. It’s the question that I get asked the most. Everything is in play right now. We’re not ready to make an announcement. We’re working internally to figure out the next steps. And I can’t talk about it because I don’t want to shortchange the process.
FOXSports.com: Are you still working on the Charger for next year?
Gilles: Yes. Absolutely. We have to. We kind of have to hedge our bets. We’re doing a little bit of the development where a lot of the stuff has been done already – a lot of the aero work is already locked in. We’re just kind of standing pat right now.(see full interview at FoxSports)(6-17-2012)
Petty to switch to Dodge? UPDATE 2 denied RPM & Dodge: according to AR1.com sources, Richard Petty Motorsports will announce on Friday in Michigan that they will switch to Dodges next year. No word yet on whether Penske, which is switching to Ford, will continue to build the Dodge engines for RPM.(AR1.com)
UPDATE: Richard Petty Motorsports says they do NOT have any press conferences planned this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. The team does not have any plans to discuss their manufacturer status this weekend (RPM)(6-12-2012)
UPDATE 2: Dodge on Tuesday denied that it has concluded a deal for 2013 with NASCAR team Richard Petty Motorsports, even though rumors to the contrary continue to swirl through stock-car racing circles that Petty was ready to make the switch from Ford. "I would be the person to ask," Beth Paretta, SRT Motorsports operations manager, told Autoweek. "We know there is a ton of interest out there to hear what our plans are for 2013. I keep being asked and it's honestly the same answer: We're simply not there yet." Various teams, including Richard Petty Motorsports, have been considered potential Dodge runners, but Paretta insisted that a lot of the rumors are "simply speculation." Richard Petty, meanwhile, reacted with understandable confusion and concern. "I don't know nothing about it," the seven-time NASCAR champion said in a Tuesday afternoon phone call to Autoweek. "I came in from a meeting at the Petty Foundation and got hit over the head with a bunch of people asking me what I was gonna announce on Friday in Michigan. I called Victory Junction and they said they didn't have anything. I called my people at RPM and they said they didn't have anything. I talked to my people here [at Petty Garage] and they said they didn't have anything. I don't know what this is all about or where it started. I know that sometimes one media cat will tell another guy something and it'll go from there, but this one is all news to me."(AutoWeek)(6-13-2012)
Dodge says nothing finalized on 2013 teams: Three months after its NASCAR future was thrown into disarray by Penske Racing's impending departure to Ford, Dodge still seems without a firm plan for Sprint Cup in 2013. Recent reports have linked the manufacturer to an IndyCar team [Andretti Autosport] moving into Cup and suggested Dodge could make an announcement in two weeks at Michigan International Speedway. But a Dodge executive said in a Wednesday statement to USA Today Sports that nothing has been finalized. Aside from not having any teams in its 2013 lineup, Dodge also hasn't settled on an engine builder. The manufacturer could cut a deal to keep receiving motors from Penske's shop or could start its own engine room. Current Cup teams without a manufacturer deal for next year include Richard Petty Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing and Front Row Motorsports. Furniture Row and RPM declined to comment. Front Row general manager Jerry Freeze told USA Today Sports his team had informal talks with Dodge "but nothing of substance" since the March 1 announcement of Penske's switch to Ford. Time is growing short on a decision because of NASCAR's switch to a new model next year. The car's bodies will require new templates and pieces, and the team is planning to build chassis starting Oct. 1, several weeks earlier than in past seasons.(USA Today)(5-31-2012)
Petty not ruling out return to Dodge: Richard Petty Motorsports is trying to negotiate a deal to stay with Ford and retain its relationship with Roush Fenway Racing. But team namesake Richard Petty isn't totally ruling out a return to Dodge, the manufacturer with which he became a racing icon as a driver. "Right now, we've got our sponsors pretty much lined up for next year,'' Petty said Friday at Kansas Speedway. "Where we go with the cars and engines and things like that ... we've got a plan, but I don't know if anybody is going to go along with it.'' Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark is optimistic his organization can continue supplying Ford engines and chassis for RPM. "We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Richard Petty and his entire team, as it is a first-class organization,'' Newmark said. "We believe it has been a mutually beneficial relationship and sincerely hope to be able to continue the partnership into the future."
Dodge has been looking for an anchor organization since Penske Racing announced it would move to Ford in 2013. Because of Petty's past association with Dodge, RPM is among several organizations speculated to be a target for Dodge. "Right now, they are pretty confused,'' Petty said of Dodge. "They got a plug pulled out of them and wasn't really expecting it. ... We'll consider going anywhere to make a living out of this. Right now, we're still up with the Ford deal and we're going everything we can to win races with them.''(ESPN)(4-21-2012)
New engines for Penske: There will be new power in the Penske Dodges when they hit the track for the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Both the #2 Miller Lite Charger (Brad Keselowski) and the #22 Shell Pennzoil Charger (A.J. Allmendinger) will be running with SRT Motorsports newly updated R6P8 racing engine. "We are excited to launch our new "closed deck" engine block with Penske Racing Engines for the Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville this weekend," said Dave Bailey, SRT Motorsports Engineering. "We are very pleased with the performance and durability of our previous 'open deck' block, but are introducing design changes to help improve head gasket life and future capability for power increases. The post machining and processing time at Penske's engine shop will be significantly reduced. We will also take advantage of weight improvements that come along with the base block material changing to "compacted graphite iron" similar to the other manufacturers. We worked closely with NASCAR to ensure the changes are compliant and have competitive parity."(Allpar.com)(3-30-2012)
Penske may continue to build Dodge engines after 2012: Penske Racing will run Fords in NASCAR's premier series next season, but the team owner said Saturday his Sprint Cup team still could be building Dodge engines. Penske hasn't decided whether to use motors from Roush Yates, which currently supplies all of Ford's teams in Cup. But Penske said his 70-person engine staff would be unaffected if he elects to align with the motors used by Roush Fenway Racing. "We have a lot of people calling us wanting to run Dodges," Penske said as his Izod IndyCar Series teams prepared to qualify for the season opener on the streets of St. Pete. "We're going to keep our engine shop open obviously. We have a big investment there. We're certainly not going to shut the door. There's a lot of speculation, but I can assure you that engine shop will continue to operate in some mode one way or the other. Because we've got chassis dynos and things that we wouldn't have the success today without what those guys have done. If Dodge is interested, if we would go to a separate source (for engines), then our shop could be available to do Dodge work for sure." Penske said he hasn't met with Roush yet, but his team has scheduled several meetings with Ford officials.(see full article and more quotes at the USA Today)(3-25-2012)
Dodge says teams are interested: Dodge Motorsports president Ralph Gilles said Dodge is moving forward and hopes to remain in NASCAR despite losing Penske Racing as its signature team. Gilles spoke Sunday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after the unveiling of the 2013 Dodge Charger Sprint Cup car. Two weeks ago, Roger Penske announced his two-car Dodge team (Dodge's only major team) was switching to Ford in 2013. Gilles said he already has heard from several NASCAR teams who are interested in switching to Dodge next year. "With the way our phone is ringing, I'm not too concerned," Gilles said. "It's been a pretty positive thing. With every storm there's a sunny day later." But Gilles would not say for certain Dodge would remain in NASCAR in 2013. "Based on the momentum we've developed, we don't feel it's going that way," Gilles said about the possibility of leaving. "We would love to stay if we can, but we have to figure it out. We're actually investing in NASCAR more than ever. Some of this timing (of Penske's announcement) was unfortunate. Some things Roger didn't realize we were doing are coming to pass."(ESPN)(3-12-2012)
Dodge to unveil 2013 Sprint Cup Dodge Charger: The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Dodge Charger is a good-looking car, with a body that brings back the brand identity to fans of the brand. But beauty isn't skin deep -- a lot of work has gone into developing the Charger race car for next season's planned on-track debut at the Daytona 500. David Bailey, senior manager for SRT Motorsports Engineering, was in it from the beginning. "In late 2010, NASCAR called the meeting with all the manufacturers," Bailey said, and all four were unanimous in their desire to race a car that looked a lot more like their road-going counterparts. NASCAR agreed. "They wanted a production car look. Each manufacturer had the opportunity to present individually to NASCAR. Dodge showed "Basically a production Charger sitting on top of a Cup car chassis," Bailey said. "And it just jumped out." SRT Motorsports at-track engineer Howard Comstock stressed that Dodge had no interest in a purely cosmetic treatment that fans could see through. "We didn't want to do it with just decals," he said. "We wanted a real identity, real features on the car that you see on the street car. After the design process started -- and approximately 2,000 e-mails, and 600 drawings later -- we've got a car that everyone knows is a Dodge Charger."
Dodge will unveil its 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dodge Charger at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The unveiling will take place in Victory Lane Sunday morning. Ralph Gilles (President and CEO -- SRT Brand and Motorsports) and Mike Helton (NASCAR President) will take part in the reveal.(Dodge PR)
Penske Motorsport assisted in the development of the new Charger, but with their recent announcement that they are moving to Ford next year, they will not participant in the event. The only other Sprint Cup Dodge Team, #7-Robby Gordon, did not make the race.(3-11-2012)
Where does Dodge go in 2013? A new manufacturer in Cup? Dodge will unveil its 2013 Sprint Cup car on March 11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. However, the bigger question now is who will be driving Dodges next year? Robby Gordon Motorsports would be the lone team at this point after Penske Racing announced Thursday that it was moving to manufacturer Ford in 2013. But Dodge has also reached out to other teams, including Richard Petty Motorsports, according to owner Andy Murstein. "We received calls from several manufacturers today asking if they could meet with us," Murstein said. "It seems that while sponsorship is down, car manufacturer support is strong. That is probably due to the fact that the car companies are all doing significantly better these days than a few years ago. Thus Petty has been approached by several manufacturers recently. What's interesting is that while there are the usual suspects there is one new manufacturer that is trying to break into the sport. RPM's contract with Ford is up at the end of the season. Petty ran Dodges from 1972 to 1978. Petty Enterprises aligned with Dodge again when the manufacturer returned to NASCAR competition in 2001 through most of the 2009 season, then under the RPM banner. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing president Steve Lauletta said the company had not yet been approached by Dodge.(Fox Sports)
AND: Richard Petty Motorsports said: "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."(RPM)(3-2-2012)
Penske switching to Ford in 2013: UPDATES: Penske Racing will in 2013 switch from Dodge to Ford in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, automotive-industry sources have informed Autoweek. An official announcement is expected midday Thursday. Penske fields Dodge Chargers for #2-Brad Keselowski and #22-A. J. Allmendinger. When Penske returned [too NASCAR] in 1991 he fielded Pontiacs through the 1994 season. He switched to Fords for the next eight seasons, 1995 through 2002, before forming his alliance with Dodge which reached nine years last season. All told, he's fielded 1,503 Cup entries, won 96 poles and 71 races. His cars have finished in the top-five 333 times and in the top-10 573 times. Penske Racing has never won a Cup championship but has been top-10 in final points 19 times. But Penske Racing has been in a mini slump of late. It has won at least one race every year since 1991 but has only 18 wins in 768 starts dating to 2004. The year before, Newman won eight races, more than half his NASCAR career total of 15. The Dodge years, beginning in 2003, are somewhat deceiving. Newman, in his second full year with Penske Racing, won eight races for Dodge in 2003, by far the brand's best NASCAR showing since its glory days with Richard Petty in the 1970s. Wallace won once in his next-to-last season of 2004, and Newman gave Dodge only three wins in his last four years with Penske. Kurt Busch won 10 times for Dodge in his six seasons with Penske Racing, and Keselowski has won three times.(AutoWeek)(3-1-2012)
UPDATE: Penske Racing is coming back to Ford. After a 10-year hiatus, Penske Racing returns its two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup operation to Ford Racing beginning with the 2013 Daytona 500, and if its latest term is anything like the most recent one, Ford fans will have plenty to cheer about. Penske Racing, recognized as one of racing's all-time great teams, most recently spent nine seasons with Ford from 1994-2002, posting 27 wins and 33 poles among three drivers. In addition, its teams finished in the Top 10 48.6 percent of the time (228-of-469 starts). The organization first raced with Ford in 1976 and 1977, before coming back in 1994. In total, through 524 NASCAR starts (509 Cup Series and 15 Nationwide Series) with Ford, Penske Racing teams earned 28 victories (27 Cup Series and one Nationwide Series) and 42 pole positions (36 Cup Series and six Nationwide Series). "This is an historic day for our racing program, and we are thrilled to see another member of the extended Ford family coming back," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Working together with Penske Racing gives Ford another championship-level program, and we are excited to take our racing program to all-new levels." Added Roger Penske: "We look forward to joining the Ford Racing NASCAR program beginning in 2013. We appreciate the long-term commitment that Ford has made to Penske Racing and for their continued support of the sport."(Ford Racing)(3-1-2012)
Dodge Statement: In response to today's announcement by Penske Racing, Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – SRT Brand and Motorsports, offered 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."(Dodge PR)(3-1-2012)
Dodge sticks with the Charger for NASCAR in 2013: Dodge announced Monday that it would continue racing the Charger in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition in 2013, when all four manufacturers will debut new body styles that are closer to the production vehicles they are named after. The new Charger will be shown at the Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Kobalt Tools 400 on March 11. The car will be displayed immediately after the drivers' meeting. Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of Dodge's Street and Racing Technology division, said no other car was considered but the Charger, because it “fit like a glove.” Ford has already debuted the 2013 Fusion as its race car, while Chevrolet and Toyota have yet to announce their plans. Gilles said they have been working on the new car for more than two years, in close association with NASCAR, which demanded “complete parity” of the four brands' designs, while still allowing the race car some brand identity. “You'll be shocked when you see it,” Gilles said. "It looks like the street car with fat rubber on it. There is a lot of correlation between the race car and the street car.” The new body styles will debut on track in a year, at the 2013 Daytona 500.(AutoWeek)(2-20-2012)
2013 cars to be tested at Homestead: UPDATES: All four 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car models are scheduled to be tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway February 1st…in a test that will apparently be closed. That may be the first time crewmen get to see all four models. Why is NASCAR, and its big marketing operation, taking such seemingly a low-keyed approach? Apparently because the sanctioning body has not yet 'aero-matched' the four models in the wind tunnel. Ford is billing its new model as a Fusion (not Mustang, as once planned), and when the car maker officially unveiled its 2013 street version, it was then free to take the wraps off the NASCAR version – which is decidedly different from the current Sprint Cup model, the still controversial and not greatly liked by many car-of-tomorrow. Chevrolet, for example, still hasn't officially named its model for its 2013 NASCAR Cup racer.(MikeMulhern.net)(1-25-2012)
UPDATE: #5-Kasey Kahne tweeted that he will be participating in the test. No other drivers have been announced.(2-1-2012)
UPDATE 2: #18-Kyle Busch (Toyota), #17-Matt Kenseth (Ford), and Sam Hornish, Jr. (Dodge) are also participating.(PRN Garage Pass)(2-1-2012)
NASCAR moving forward with 2013 cars: The 2012 season hasn't even started, but the move toward new car models in 2013 is well under way. Manufacturers that compete in NASCAR's premier series have targeted next year to roll out new vehicles that will provide the carmakers with more brand identity on the race track. That process will gain speed during the next month or so, beginning with wind-tunnel tests and eventually an on-track session sometime later in 2012, according to the sanctioning body. "We'll be in the wind tunnel over the next 30, 45 days with the new prototypes as we do our evaluations on the submission cars, parts and pieces," Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said Friday at Preseason Thunder. "Everybody seems to be pretty far along, and the changes that will come out of those will be based on parity due to the wind-tunnel numbers. We're optimistic that there will be some real race cars on race tracks probably in the second quarter this year doing some evaluation runs, if not before then. NASCAR president Mike Helton praised the cooperation between the carmakers, which decided with the sanctioning body's blessing to redesign the cars for next season.(NASCAR.com)(1-14-2012)
Dodge considering engine changes: UPDATE: With the Roush Fenway Racing Fords showing greatly increased pace this year, rival manufacturers are starting to make noise about horsepower. Ford's purpose-built FR9 NASCAR Sprint Cup engine was designed with a lower center of gravity and greatly improved cooling, the latter of which allows Ford teams to run more tape on the nose of their cars. The more tape added, the more front downforce, although too much tape can block the radiator and cause overheating. Sources at Dodge confirmed to SPEED.com that the automaker is looking at revisions to its existing - and still relatively new - P6 engine. NASCAR would need to approve any engine mods, and a Dodge official said they automaker "could have something toward end of season." As for now, the source said, "All talk now is premature."(SPEED)(6-4-2011)
UPDATE: Tony Stewart may believe everyone is "bringing a knife to a gun fight right now" when it comes to competing with Ford engines, but that is not necessarily the view of Chevy officials. "I have seen the (chassis) dyno numbers and we are pleased with them," said Alba Colon, the GM Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup series program manager. "We have seen the numbers. We have discussed the numbers with our teams. I am pleased so far; we just have to keep working on it."(Charlotte Observer)(6-5-2011)
NASCAR meets with manufacturers: NASCAR held a "town hall" style meeting with its manufacturers - Chevy, Dodge, Ford and Toyota - in Detroit on Tuesday. The five-hour summit, which was described by both sides as "very productive" with "an open exchange," is expected to be the first of many where marketing and competition ideas are shared between the sanctioning body and its automotive partners. NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell and Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton offered a brief update on the 2013 Sprint Cup car models and the decision behind restructuring points. In addition, computer-aided design photos of one of the 2013 cars were compared to the 2012 street car for the same manufacturer, highlighting an effort to return to the showroom influence. But the focus was geared more toward the current state of the sport and building NASCAR through its new integrated marketing and communications department.(Fox Sports)(5-5-2011)
NASCAR, manufacturers schedule meeting: NASCAR officials and representatives of the four participating manufacturers plan to meet next week in Detroit. It's all informal, of course. NASCAR President Mike Helton likened the meeting with representatives from Dodge, Ford, General Motors and Toyota to the many town hall sessions with teams and drivers over the last few years. "The idea was for us to be better communicators with the stakeholders — the broadcast partners, the tracks, the teams, the drivers," Helton said.(Associated Press)(5-1-2011)
2013 Sprint Cup designs moving forward: Development of the proposed new 2013 Sprint Cup Series body styles is progressing on schedule, as the sanctioning body works hand-in-hand with automakers to increase brand identity on the race track. Multiple sources say Chevy, Ford, Dodge and Toyota are expected to submit their final roof and rear deck lid designs in the near future, allowing NASCAR to move forward with the process of creating a unique body for each brand, while maintaining a similar aerodynamic footprint. The current Sprint Cup Series bodies are virtually identical, with the exception of a vinyl graphics package applied to the headlight, grille and rear taillight areas of each car. Beginning in 2013, however, the sanctioning body hopes to have each model be easily identifiable from the front, rear and sides. In an effort to allow manufacturers more design leeway, NASCAR will reportedly cease to distinguish between steel and lexan, allowing manufacturers to contour their NASCAR windshields and side windows identically to those found on their stock, production models. The change would allow teams to do away with the bulky, steel B-pillars required under current NASCAR rules, replacing them with thin "support strips" anchored to larger, lexan side windows. The move will greatly enhance brand identity, something automakers have lobbied hard for in recent years. It could also remove the main stumbling block cited by General Motors executives for not keeping their popular Chevy Camaro out of NASCAR competition. GM has staunchly refused to modify what it calls the "iconic body line" of the Camaro for NASCAR competition. But with new rules in place for the 2013 season, there is a chance the Detroit automaker could reconsider that decision.(Sirius Speedway)(4-6-2011)
Dodge teams up with movie Fast Five: The Dodge brand has teamed up with Universal Pictures for a multi-tiered partnership to support Universal's upcoming action-thriller Fast Five and the 2011 Dodge Charger. The latest installment in Universal's blockbuster franchise, Fast Five, will be released in theaters April 29. Dodge supplied multiple 2010 and 2011 Dodge Charger vehicles used in chase scenes throughout the movie and is sponsoring a Dodge/Fast Five advertisement that will air for the first time Saturday during the coveted Final Four advertising space. Making its debut at the Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 3, will be the #7 Fast Five Dodge Charger R/T driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Robby Gordon. The #7 Fast Five Dodge Charger R/T Dodge will race throughout the month of April during NASCAR races at Texas, Talladega and Richmond. As part of the partnership with Robby Gordon Motorsports, the first 200 fans to register at dodgemotorsports.com or speedenergy.com will receive a special Fast Five movie viewing with Robby Gordon on Saturday, April 30, in Richmond, VA.(Dodge), see an image of the car on my #7 Team Schemes page.(4-1-2011)
Dodge awards Keselowski special Dodge Challenger: In celebration of its first NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, Dodge awarded 2010 champion Brad Keselowski with "The Biggest Trophy In NASCAR – Imported From Detroit – today during ceremonies at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dodge Motorsports' Bryan Viger handed over the keys to a 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, a BKR (Brad Keselowski Racing) Commemorative Edition high-performance street vehicle custom built by the "Mopar Underground" team at Chrysler Group LLC in Auburn Hills, Mich. During his 2010 record-breaking season, Keselowski recorded six wins, 26 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes in the No. 22 Discount Tire/Ruby Tuesday Dodge from Penske Racing.
Custom features on the vehicle include;
• Deep Water Blue paint from the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 Inaugural Edition along with hood, roof and rear decklid finished in matte black and accented with grabber blue pin stripe.
• Custom 22-inch Forgiato wheels carry matte black powder coated paint and grabber blue pin stripes added to the outside wheel lips.
• Standard 392 HEMI fender badges have been moved to each side of the hood and replaced with 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion decals on both fenders
• Modified interior features Smooth Pearl White leather-trimmed seats and dual blue stripes accented by unique blue stitching from the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 Inaugural Edition model.
• Under the hood is the 392-cubic inch HEMI® V-8 powertrain pumping out 470 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque
o Newest HEMI engine in the SRT product lineup provides 45 more horsepower and an additional 90 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,900 rpm versus the previous 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 engine
o Fuel Saver technology (four-cylinder mode) improves fuel economy 15-percent on the highway versus the previous 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 engine
• Stock exhaust system is replaced with new Corsa-tuned system from Mopar
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.
“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)