NASCAR team owner tried to bring back old manufacturer

Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Dodge, NASCAR (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Dodge, NASCAR (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

Dodge hasn’t been a manufacturer in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2012, but a current team owner reportedly tried to bring them back into the fold.

Dodge’s most recent season in the NASCAR Cup Series saw the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The manufacturer had just seen one of their cars, Team Penske’s (then Penske Racing’s) #2, win the 2012 championship with driver Brad Keselowski. But the following offseason, they announced that they would not be returning to the sport.

The Detroit, Michigan-based automobile brand cited not being able to find teams to work with them heading into the following year as the reason for their departure.

The 2013 season is when the Gen 6 car made its debut. Penske Racing switched to Ford, and then-Ford team Richard Petty Motorsports couldn’t come to an agreement to reunite with Dodge.

As there was nobody left with whom to conduct business, the writing was on the wall for Dodge. Dodge’s Charger was still able to be built and run by smaller teams in the Xfinity Series, such as MBM Motorsports, but that run ultimately ended after 2018.

But since the arrival of the Next Gen car, Dodge’s return has been rumored, and a team owner even attempted to bring them back to NASCAR.

The Next Gen car’s arrival to NASCAR was not only an attempt to ”return to stock” through the car’s design itself, but also an attempt to build a cost-efficient car which would lure in additional OEMs.

With a goal of adding at least one OEM, Dodge was the brand most heavily rumored to rejoin the sport. Team owners knew this, and at least one tried to act on it.

According to Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern, RFK Racing held “exploratory talks” with Dodge about re-entering NASCAR.

RFK Racing is co-owned by Hall of Famer Jack Roush, Fenway Sports Group, and Keselowski. Roush, who founded the team, has been loyal to Ford his entire career.

But Keselowski had an extensive relationship with Dodge before switching to the Blue Oval brand, and he reportedly looked into rekindling that relationship.

For now, the talks of the OEM returning to the sport seem to have cooled down. It is unclear the exact reason why, but the stalled progress of the rumored electric series has been cited as a possible factor.

Dodge is set to switch its Challenger and Charger models to electric cars in 2024 and is looking for representation of electric vehicles in NASCAR, a move the sport isn’t quite ready to make.

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Without a series which complements that switch, a return to NASCAR isn’t the most pressing move the company feels the need to make. With success in the NHRA, Dodge feels comfortable in its current place in racing, and their heavily rumored return to NASCAR will have to wait.