Sunday, March 04, 2012

Penske switches NASCAR team from Dodge to Ford


Roger Penske has run a NASCAR operation off and on since 1972, and continuously since 1991. In that time his drivers have piloted cars from AMC, Mercury, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Ford and, for the last nine years,Dodge. Penske announced this week, though, that 2012 would be his team's last year with Dodge and that 2013 would inaugurate a new partnership with Ford. There's another Dodge in the Sprint Cup field driven by Robby Gordon, but Penske has been Dodge's marquee and development team.

Autoweek reports that the move isn't over money, but Penske's desire "to 'benchmark' his team's positionagainst some same-brand competition, and that the association with Ford would make that possible. To us that sounds like excessive chivalry. Had Penske Racing been winning with Dodge, would it really swap makers just to make closer comparisons? In the last eight years Penske took the Nationwide series in 2010 with Brad Keselowski, but in the Sprint Cup, the team has won just 18 times in 764 starts.

The 2013 Dodge Charger Sprint Cup car is set to be revealed next week at the race in Las Vegas. The question now is, who will run the new car?

Both Penske and SRT CEO Ralph Gilles say they're focused on winning this year, and in a statement Gilles added, "We do value our NASCAR program and will be evaluating the opportunities available moving forward."