Roush (top), Hendrick and
TRD dominate NASCAR
It simply couldn’t find a team capable of taking on its program. After five months of searching, Dodge couldn’t find a team with the ability to build its own engines and chassis.
That’s a startling turn of events that should be putting a real scare into the world of NASCAR. The best options for Dodge came down to a one-car team from Denver – or importing a team from IndyCar racing.
Roger Penske, who had been building the Dodge engines before announcing he was taking his race team and going to Ford in 2013, had hoped to continue building Dodge engines and selling them to the company. But when presented with the option, top Fiat-Chrysler management, neutral to negative on NASCAR to begin with, wondered why the company would want to buy engines from someone who just jumped to a competitor. Good question. And Dodge had no interest in taking on the role of engine builder supplier.
What happens now to the Penske engine program? Well we know it won’t be building Sprint Cup engines. Jack Roush announced before Pocono that Penske would be getting his Ford engines from Yates/Roush. The demise of Penske Racing engines marks the second major Cup engine program to go belly-up in the past year, Joe Gibbs Racing having stopped building Cup engines at the end of last year in favor of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) power plants.
That’s not a good thing. Sprint Cup engine production is now dominated by three groups, Hendrick Motorsports for Chevrolet, Yates/Roush for Ford and TRD for Toyota. Oh yeah, Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines supplies those teams along with Chip Ganassi, but they really haven’t been competitive all year. And Triad Racing builds some start-and-park Toyota motors, but that’s about it.
In announcing the decision to pull out, Ralph Gilles, head of Dodge’s SRT (Street and Racing Technology) group that oversees the company’s racing activities, pointed a finger squarely at Ford for contributing to the problem.
“Ford has been very aggressive again trying to get critical mass in the sport with some new launches coming up,” Gilles said. “That's their strategy. We are not in a position to do the same thing. There's really no one to do it with. It's really a game of musical chairs in NASCAR. They are really shrinking capacity in Carolina.
“What's available in North Carolina now is not what was available five, 10 years ago. It's not as easy as you would think to configure a team at the level that we are accustomed to racing and at the level that we want to perform.
“So unfortunately, the house of cards kind of fell apart. We really apologize to our fans and love our fans. We hope they remain loyal to us as we really make some of the coolest cars on the planet.”