NASCAR manufacturer eyeing long-awaited return for 2023?

Nicolas Hammann, Mike Harmon Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Nicolas Hammann, Mike Harmon Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) /

The Next Gen car is primed to be a big selling point for possible new manufacturers to join NASCAR, but one former manufacturer may already have interest in a return.

With the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season over, the era of the “Gen 6” car is officially over as well. When the 2022 season begins, the era of the Next Gen car will begin. In hopes of a “return to stock”, NASCAR is revamping the race cars mechanically and aesthetically to try to perfect the superseding product.

Aside from the physical on-track product, NASCAR has been in talks to sign another manufacturer for several months. Their main hope is that the cost effectiveness of the Next Gen car will appeal to various manufacturers and lead them to want to put cars on the race track alongside Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota.

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However, the “new” manufacturer may actually be a familiar face.

Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern recently reported that NASCAR president Steve Phelps acknowledged the rumors of Dodge potentially making a return to the sport, and he did not confirm nor deny them.

Additionally, a Dodge spokesman recently stated that Dodge has “launched a new business plan focused on highlighting its V8 engines and racing parts business.”

It has been widely acknowledged that a key purpose of the Next Gen car is to bring more manufacturers into the sport, and between making progress over the summer in terms of attracting new ones and now talks about an old one returning, things are trending in the right direction.

Logistically, the earliest that Dodge (or any other manufacturer, for that matter) would field a new car would be in 2023, not 2022. A new manufacturer would also need to look at which teams would be willing to sign on.

Team Penske may be a viable option, as they fielded Dodge models from 2003 to 2012. Stewart-Haas Racing may also be a team to keep in mind. Team co-owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart recently announced his plans to run an NHRA team, with Dodge rumored to be the manufacturer.

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Dodge hasn’t truly left NASCAR completely either, with a Dodge Challenger still being fielded in the Pinty’s Series. It remains to be seen when and where the momentum of a potential return will go, but a Dodge reunion would only help the sport’s popularity.