Is Dodge Returning to NASCAR?
Mopar fans that follow NASCAR have had their share of highs and lows. If you’ll excuse the pun, Dodge’s history in NASCAR is checkered.
Back in 2012, just after Brad Keselowski won the Sprint Cup Driver’s Championship, Dodge made the decision to withdraw from the sport, due mostly to a lack of star power. At that time, Penske Racing had already planned on moving to Ford for the following season.
When Dodge initially returned in 1999, the emphasis was just as much on Ray Everham and his new team as it was on the cars themselves. With veteran superstar Bill Elliot and hot rookie Casey Atwood behind the wheel, Dodge had everyone’s attention — and they were rewarded with a performance worth watching.
Without a star-studded team, Chrysler, who was still recovering from bankruptcy, made the decision to pull the plug after 2012. But with their recent sales successes and emphasis on performance, a return to the sport seems very likely — and it has the full support of FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, a racing fan who has reportedly been in talks with Jim France, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President.
A return to NASCAR’s premier series has numerous benefits for the manufacturer. Getting a team to switch brands is considered a real coup in terms of PR — and it can make a huge difference if that team ends up winning.
With Dodge’s current ad campaigns emphasizing tire-roasting performance, a cut to a shot of a victorious Charger covered in stickers and cutting donuts on a banked oval’s infield would do a lot to remind customers of Dodge’s performance DNA.
The best part is that Dodge won’t be starting from scratch if it goes back to NASCAR. Dodge has a long, proud history to draw from, with names like Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, and David Pearson associated with it. The TV commercials direct themselves, don’t they?