Dodge Back in NASCAR?
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne Reveals that Dodge’s Return to the Track After a Four-Year Absence is Possible
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has met with NASCAR power player Jim France and International Speedway Inc. CEO Lesa France Kennedy about a return to the motorsport for Dodge following a four-year absence. The meeting happened at Daytona International Raceway last weekend. It took place during Ferrari’s Finale Mondiali event at the famous high-banked track.
When asked about the talk, Marchionne told The Daytona Beach News-Journal: “We are in a different [financial] place now. I think it is possible we can come back to NASCAR. I think we need to find the right way to come back in, but I agreed with both Jim and Lesa [that] we would come back to the issue.”
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.
Without a star-studded team, Chrysler, which was still recovering from bankruptcy, made the decision to pull the plug after 2012. But with the company’s recent sales successes and emphasis on performance, Nascar seems like a good idea again.
Reading between the lines, Marchionne’s words basically mean that a racing program would need to be put together and approved, but it looks like there is a very-high likelihood that Dodge will be racing again in the near future.
Others who chimed in at the Ferrari Mondiali event noted some hurdles that may lay ahead. With multi-million dollar investments per each team, and sometimes per car, it will take a lot of cash to get a Challenger or Charger on an oval course. Dodge also wouldn’t want to just come back to race, the company would want to come back to win. A well put-together team can pull it off, but not everyone has the magic touch of Penske, or Ganassi.
Dodge, which has been out of NASCAR since 2012, would bring the field back up to four manufacturers, with Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota currently on the grid. NASCAR, as a series, has also been making moves with a partnership with Monster Energy drinks. It appears that Dodge could strike while the iron is hot.
Additional reporting by Cameron Vanderhorst
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