Mopar muscle fans hoping that Dodge would return to NASCAR in the near future will be disappointed by the latest news. According to circulating reports, the American automaker isn’t likely to stage a comeback to top-tier stock-car racing any time soon.
This despite pronouncements by FCA chief Sergio Marchionne as recently as this past December that he was eager to get the Dodge brand back into the Cup series.
The Drive reports that, after meeting with NASCAR officials over the past few months, the conclusion reached in Auburn Hills is that the cost of mounting a renewed assault on the top stock-car racing series would be prohibitive. Chrysler would ostensibly prefer to contract an established engine builder (rather than handle it in-house as Toyota does), but with series organizers having recently constricted the number of sanctioned engine-builders, finding one able to undertake the program for FCA could prove the ultimate stumbling block.
Dodge last competed in NASCAR in 2012 when Marchionne pulled the plug due to financial considerations. That was right after Brad Keselowski won the championship in a Dodge Charger, one of only two fielded by Penske Racing, which was the only team running Dodge engines full-time that season. It was a similar move that Dodge pulled after it won the GTS class in the American Le Mans Series back in 2000, leaving the series on a high note.
These days Dodge and Mopar are focusing more on NHRA drag racing, where they’ve proven the dominant force in both the Funny Car and Top Fuel dragster classes. It also competes in the second-tier Xfinity Series, but again (like Ford) only with a half-empty handful of teams to go up against all the others running Chevy and Toyota engines. If Dodge ever does get serious about returning to what’s now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it’d likely start by ramping up its presence in the Xfinity Series first. In the meantime, with the prospects of Honda or Volkswagen joining the ranks (as have been mooted) now looking unlikely, it looks like Chevy, Ford, and Toyota will remain the only automakers in the game.