Dodge to quit NASCAR after 2012 season
Company says it couldn't find team to replace Penske
By Bryce G. Hoffman, The Detroit News
August 8, 2012
Chrysler Group LLC announced Tuesday that Dodge will pull out of NASCAR at the end of the 2012 season.
"This decision was not based on budgets," said Ralph Gilles, head of the company's motorsports division. "It's more a question of going and racing at the level we were accustomed to."
Dodge was left hanging after its factory-backed team, Penske Racing, announced in March that it would race with Ford in 2013. Since then, Gilles and his staff have been scrambling to find another team to partner with. But he conceded that those efforts had been unsuccessful.
"My staff is exhausted," he said. "We had our hopes up, just like everyone else."
Gilles said he understood fans would be disappointed by the decision and apologized for letting them down.
"We feel their pain," he said. "We had our hopes up, just like everyone else."
That was not good enough for George Katona of Stockbridge, Ga.
"I've been a Mopar fan all my life. I just feel that's a slap in the face," he said, adding that he has decided not buy the 2013 Dodge Charger he had his eye on because of Chrysler's decision. "I just feel that strong about it."
He said Dodge should have found another team to work with and turned them into winners.
But Gilles said that would be difficult, given the consolidation that has occurred in NASCAR in recent years and Ford Motor Co.'s efforts to dominate the sport. Ford already had a winning alliance with Roush Fenway Racing, and Gilles said its decision to create a second alliance with Penske means Ford is now backing two of the top teams in field.
"That was an aggressive decision on Ford's behalf," he said, adding that the Dearborn automaker is trying to achieve "a critical mass" in NASCAR to promote new vehicles like the redesigned Ford Fusion.
Kevin Kennedy, a spokesman for Ford Racing, said, "We didn't hide the fact that we were looking for a second championship-capable team. We're in NASCAR to win and then to market that success. He calls it 'aggressive,' I call it good business. We're just trying to be as successful as we can. Our job is to have a winning program."
NASCAR said it regretted Chrysler's decision to withdraw.
MORE AT: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...08080317/1148/