The car manufacturer Chrysler used this weekend's NASCAR event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to show off the new generation Dodge Charger that the company hopes to field in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition in 2013.
New rules and regulations are being introduced in the series from next season to allow car manufacturers to bring more of their own individual styling to the cars and make the stock cars more closely resemble the road cars that they market to the public.
"NASCAR provided the manufacturers with basic specifications, but offered encouragement to venture beyond the look of the current race car," said Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's president and CEO of SRT (Street and Racing Technology) Brand and Motorsports. "From the start, it's been a collaborative effort with NASCAR."
"We're excited about the results of the collective efforts of NASCAR, Dodge and the other manufacturers to create the 2013 Sprint Cup cars," said NASCAR president Mike Helton. "The 2013 Dodge Charger race car design is a great example of what we look forward to seeing on the race track next season."
The new Dodge has been developed with considerable input from the Penske team, but that organisation announced last week that it was to drop Dodge and return to the Ford stable in 2013, leaving the future of the 2013 Dodge Charger and the very involvement of the manufacturer in NASCAR competition in considerable doubt.
"The same questions you're asking me is what we're asking ourselves," Gilles told reporters when asked about what Penske's decision meant for the manufacturer. "So we're just putting it all down on paper and trying to figure out what's the next big move.
"It's only been a couple of weeks," said Gilles after the unveiling of the new car, which notably saw no representatives of Penske at the public unveiling at LVMS. "I'm still kind of licking my wounds and trying to figure out the world right now. The good news is that the phone is ringing. There's a lot of people very interested to be part of what we've done ... I'm not too concerned."
Among Penske's reasons for dropping Dodge is thought to be the lack of other major teams running the same make of car against which they are able to benchmark themselves. Dodge's unwillingness to sign anything over a five-year renewal deal is also thought to have been a major factor in the break-up.
“We weren't willing to do a five-year type of deal just because we wanted to stay loose a little bit,” said Gilles when asked about this. “That's all I can say on that matter.”