By Patrick Rall
SRT Motorsports unveiled the 2013 Dodge Charger stock car
earlier this year – right after Penske Racing announced that they would be
leaving Dodge after the 2012 season to go race with Ford. This means that the only NASCAR Sprint Cup
teams running Dodge Chargers right now will have gone elsewhere next season,
leaving Dodge NASCAR fans like myself wondering if there will be a “next year”
for the Dodge Sprint Cup program. You
would think that if Dodge went to the trouble to design a 2013 Dodge Charger
stock car, they would have someone to drive it but who might that be?
We have already speculated that Sprint Cup points leader
Matt Kenseth could be making the jump to a Dodge team as he has announced that
he will not be with Roush Racing next year but maybe that it shooting a bit too
high – being a bit too hopeful?
Another interesting possibility is Travis Pastrana, who has
had a fairly awful season in the #199 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry. While there has been no talk of Pastrana
leaving his Toyota team and going elsewhere, the former X Games phenom has
become increasingly more involved with Dodge and SRT Motorsports over the past
few months. First, Pastrana left a long
and successful career with Subaru in the rally world to come run Global
RallyCross in the new 2013 Dodge Dart – taking home his first win recently at
the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Second, Pastrana has also taken up a position with the Ram/Red Bull
Racing program in the Torc Pro 2WD truck series where he finished second in his
very first start and was taken out of contention in the second race of his
short career with an early crash.
That means that Travis Pastrana has two factory backed rides
from a company who obviously seems to want to run NASCAR but they are without a
regular driver once Penske Racing moves to Ford. Pastrana has limited experience with almost
no success in the NASCAR Nationwide Series ranks but with so much involvement
with Dodge and SRT Motorsports, could the Chrysler Group be wooing Mr. Pastrana
to run NASCAR in 2013?
The problem is that even if the Chrysler Group can entice
Travis Pastrana to leave RAB Racing and his struggles in the Toyota Camry,
there is still no team ready to take him on for 2013. Pastrana is heavily sponsored by Red Bull
Racing – a company who pulled out of the NASCAR Sprint Cup ranks after the 2011
season where their company name appeared on the #83 Toyota of Brian Vickers. Based on that, Travis Pastrana could come to
Dodge’s NASCAR program with a well-known, deep-pocketed sponsor so it could
entice a prospective team owner looking to jump to the Dodge brand in 2013. Pastrana probably doesn’t have the resources
to start up a new team on his own but with lot of financial help from Red Bull
and Dodge Motorsports – Pastrana could either come up with a ride of his own or
attract a new car owner to the Dodge brand for 2013.
Travis Pastrana likely wouldn’t come into the NASCAR ranks
winning big with the 2013 Dodge Charger but the charismatic rally racer would
make for a great personality in a sport that caters to that sort of racer. Even if he isn’t winning a ton – Travis Pastrana
would likely generate a great deal of attention and enthusiasm from Dodge