Gilles: Dodge Has No Plans To Leave NASCAR Despite No Teams Signed For '13
Following Penske Racing's announcement it would drop Dodge for Ford, Dodge President & CEO Ralph Gilles said that the company has “no plans to leave the sport and hopes to have its 2013 Sprint Cup lineup primarily solidified by mid-summer,” according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. Dodge yesterday unveiled its ‘13 Sprint Cup car, but with Penske’s departure from the brand, Dodge “has no organizations signed” for next season. Gilles said, “We’re activating (with marketing displays) at 19 races versus six last year. We’re actually investing in NASCAR more than ever. Some of this timing was unfortunate. … The momentum doesn’t go that way (of us leaving). We’d love to stay if we could. But we’ve got to figure it out.” He added of Penske’s move, “It was unexpected, to be honest with you, but we’re ready for it. We’ve been knocked down a few times in our history and we’ve come back.” Team Owner Roger Penske in announcing the move March 1 to Ford starting in ’13 said that “one of the keys to the deal was Ford’s ability for a longer-term deal.” Gilles said that Dodge “wouldn’t offer Penske a five-year deal.” He said that he was “not sure how many teams Dodge would want in 2013 and whether it would continue having one flagship team and a group of partially supported organizations” (SCENEDAILY.com, 3/11). In Charlotte, Jim Utter notes Dodge at yesterday’s Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas “took the cover off its new model Dodge Charger which it will use in the 2013 Sprint Cup season with much fanfare.” The car “as expected … looks very similar to its production model brother -- which has been the goal for the manufacturers and NASCAR” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/12).
NOT SHYING AWAY: Gilles said, "We could have decided not to show the 2013 car and walk away, but we don’t shy away from these things and we’re very excited about the new car. It’s got a lot of potential. The feedback is good. NASCAR’s happy with it so ... it’s a reset and we’re going to look at our options.” Gilles said continuing to support Robby Gordon Motorsports and possibly reuniting with Richard Petty Motorsports “are on our list of options” for Dodge going forward and “our phone has actually been ringing pretty steadily” ("Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain,” Speed, 3/11).