Is Dodge Going Back to NASCAR?

Dodge, Ford, and Chevy were NASCAR for decades. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” That was always the real goal for manufacturers racing. In 2007, Toyota joined the parade, though cheating has sidelined the make a couple of different times. But in 2012, Dodge pulled out and has stayed out. While it is great that Toyota is in to mix things up, the Dodge brand is still sorely missed. Now, there are some serious rumors that NASCAR addressed Sunday.

NASCAR is speaking about Dodge’s return

NASCAR Dodge
Dodge racing in NASCAR Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 | Getty

In a news conference before the race in Phoenix, NASCAR president Steve Phelps talked about Dodge and their return to the sport. “You know what, there are some discussions that are going on with other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), new OEMs, that would come into the sport.

“Our three existing OEMs are happy about that. Our race teams are happy about that. We’re happy about that. It’s been widely rumored that Dodge is one of those or closest. I won’t confirm or deny that.”

Dodge just announced its Direct Connection performance parts program

Dodge NASCAR
1974 Dodge Charger that Richard Petty drove to his fifth and sixth Grand National/Winston Cup Series Championship in 1974 and 1975 | Getty

According to him, talks have been ongoing, but the pandemic slowed down progress. Adding fuel to the rumors was Dodge’s announcement last week that its racing and performance parts business called Direct Connection was coming back. That was formerly the name Dodge used for a couple of decades starting in 1974. 

“We are an attractive place I believe for OEMs to come into the sport. Now is an important opportunity for them to do that because of the Next Gen car. I also believe the fact that the sport is growing and has a relevance that it hasn’t had in decades is causing some real interest from other OEMs.”

When Fox News asked a Dodge spokesperson about Phelps’ comments, it was mum. “No comment,” was the response. But what do you expect? 

The last time Dodge raced in a NASCAR Cup season was 2012

Dodge NASCAR
Brad Keselowski drives the NASCAR Dodge to a championship in 2012 | Getty

In Dodge’s last NASCAR Cup season in 2012, it ended on top. Team Penske with Brad Keselowski driving, took the championship trophy. Penske had the reigns starting in 2003. But by 2012, Dodge’s fortunes were not looking as bright as they are now. 

Of course, Penske is now entrenched with Ford, winning the 2018 Cup season. And there are many changes on the horizon as NASCAR gets with the times. Hybrid powertrains will be used in 2024. That would only leave the 2023 season if Dodge were to get in now. Next season is already set, and besides, teams would need time to pull things together.

Would Dodge return for the 2023 season?

NASCAR Dodge
2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge | Getty

Would Dodge come back for one year under the current platform only to switch to hybrid powertrains the following season? It’s doubtful when you consider the cost and technology curve necessary. So if Dodge came back, it would more than likely be for the 2024 season. 

That means there is a lot of time for “discussions” before any announcement for Dodge’s return sees the light of day. And the industry as a whole is rapidly changing. So while 2024 doesn’t seem like a long time, these days it is. 

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