Monday, August 13, 2012

The Danger Behind Dodge’s Decision

Roush (top), Hendrick and 
TRD dominate NASCAR
engine suppliers
It’s now pretty clear why Dodge pulled out of 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.”


  1. So well said. The Top 35 rule killed an influx of new car owners into Nascar. AND, new drivers as well. Nobody is retiring just the same old names being recycled.
    How much longer before RCR quits building engines? Economically it makes sense for GM to put all their eggs in the HMS basket.

    The chickens are slowly coming home to roost for Nascar. But not to worry they are still making millions.

  2. Dodge will be gone from the american market in 5 years anyway

    1. Nope.. Dodge will flourish in the American market. So will Chrysler- Fiat will be gone in America once again.

  3. I was a fan back when the single car teams built engines and cars that ship sailed 10 years ago NA$CAR chased all of the little guys out like Morgan Mclure , cale yarborough , DW , Bill elliott ricky rudd bud moore juney dunleavey , every weekend its roush , hendrick sometimes gibbs and rcr , IT SUCKS even stewart is hendrick just like petty is roush , support your local tracks this crap sucks

  4. The only real answer is to stop allowing teams to sell engines and make them build their own