2012 will be Dodge's NASCAR swan song

Back when Penske Racing announced that it would be jumping the Dodge dingy for the Ford ship come 2013, many wondered what that meant for Dodge. The manufacturer had just revealed its redesigned Sprint Cup car for 2013, but who was going to drive it?

After all, Penske was the only team left in the small but successful Dodge camp. Who was going to drive this new car when Penske headed over to the Blue Oval group? Was Richard Petty Motorsports going to return to the Dodge fold? Was Dodge going to back a brand-spanking-new team?

Dodge insisted that its NASCAR program would be just fine, despite Penske’s departure. Officials from the manufacturer claimed that they were scouting other teams. Apparently, they were unsuccessful. Either that, or Dodge just changed its mind. Because Dodge’s divorce from NASCAR became official on Tuesday. That is, it was officially announced that the two parties will part ways come the end of the season.

NASCAR released a statment from sanctioning body Chairman and CEO Brian France, expressing regret over Dodge pulling out of the sport.

“Dodge has been a great partner to NASCAR for many years, and they have been a part of numerous memorable moments throughout our history,” the statement read. “They made a business decision not to return in 2013, as they did in 1977 before returning in 2001,” France said. “We wish them well and hope they again will choose to return to NASCAR at a later date.”

After leaving NASCAR in the 1970s, Dodge returned with a new team, Evernham Motorsports, in 2001. Richard Petty Motorsports, then Petty Enterprises, and Penske Racing also joined the fold. Evernham Motorsports eventually became Gillett-Evernham Motorsports shortly thereafter and eventually merged into Richard Petty Motorsports. RPM then merged with Ford team Yates Racing and made the manufacturer switch to Ford. That left Penske Racing as the only top-tier Dodge team left at the Sprint Cup level. As mentioned previously, that team will make the transition to Ford next year.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

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Tags: Dodge NASCAR Penske Racing Richard Petty Motorsports

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