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Penske to drop Dodge for Ford power

Penske has been key in Dodge's development of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Dodge Charger due to be unveiled next week at Las Vegas on March 11, part of a revamp of NASCAR Cup cars that will allow more manufacturer-specific styling than the current models.

Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing are all firmly in the Chevrolet stable and unlikely to be interested in a move anytime soon, while Joe Gibbs Racing and Waltrip Racing are both tied to Toyota. The teams already aligned with Ford, including Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsport, show no signs of wanting a change anytime soon either.

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing - currently with Chevrolet, but seeking an edge to break out of its recent slump in form - might be an option for Dodge. Otherwise only the much smaller teams are left, none of which are likely to have the technical expertise and capacity sought by Dodge in a lead development partner.

That raises a very real possibility that Dodge might exit NASCAR altogether, despite the sport's recent success in viewing numbers and media coverage in the US. Losing Dodge would be an embarrassment for the series and could focus attention on its economic prospects, which is just the sort of cloud that NASCAR won't want hanging over them as it head into the 2012 season.

"Our motorsports involvement isn't limited to NASCAR," said Ralph Gilles, the president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports "We do value our NASCAR program and will be evaluating the opportunities available moving forward. As those opportunities materialize, we'll reveal our 2013 plans, not only in NASCAR but in other forms of motorsports."

In the meantime, Gilles insisted that they were committed to a successful final season with Penske.

"We are committed to work with Penske Racing to compete at the highest level, win races and contend for championships this season," he said. "Dodge has enjoyed a successful partnership with Penske Racing for ten years. It's a partnership that has produced results for both parties on and off the track. Roger has made a business decision to accept an offer with another manufacturer. We wish Roger and Penske Racing much success in the future."

But it was also clear from Roger Penske's comments that the lack of other top-level Dodge teams was one of the reasons for his decision to switch back to Ford.

"This wasn't about money," Penske said, indicating he wanted a manufacturer with deeper alliances as he felt he had to be better able to benchmark the team's performance against its rivals if he was to challenge for the Sprint Cup title in the next few years.

"It was apparent we need to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, and we've been trying to do it alone," he added, saying that the decision to make the move away from Dodge had been made before the Daytona 500.




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The 2013 Ford Fusion is unveiled and driven on track during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday in Concord, N.C. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
The prototype 2013 Ford Fusion NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. [Picture Credit: Ford Racing]
Roger Penske and Brad Keselowski celebrate winning the 2010 Nationwide Series championship [Picture Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Roger Penske during the 2011 pre-season Sprint Media Tour [Picture Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR}
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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, places his name in the top twelve on The Chase Grid after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, puts the winner`s sticker on his car in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Eckrich Ford, races Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
(Back Row L-R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Back Row L - R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, poses with his team in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

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