NASCAR COO Says New OEM “Close to the Finish Line” About Joining the Sport!

For the past nine years, there have been rumors of the Dodge brand returning to the NASCAR competition. After winning the NASCAR Cup Series Championship with Penske Racing in 2012, Dodge abandoned the sport after the team brought down the automaker amid a switch to the sixth generation of cars. This was because Dodge refused to sign a multi-year extension with Penske and instead wanted a yearly contract.

The intended car is the sixth generation of the 2013 Dodge Charger Cup. (Embraces).

Rumors have swirled over the past several years, that Dodge has been talking to RCR since 2013 about the return of the Cup series. Rumors were raised again about three years ago when it was announced that Richard Petty Motorsports (which has a great history with the Dodge brand), was forming an alliance with RCR to produce its cars. But nothing came of it.

Dodge // SRT and Mopar have partnered with Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) to compete in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. (Dodges).

Rumors of Dodge’s return to the Cup increased throughout the NASCAR world after it was announced that three-time Cup champion and current Cup owner, Tony Stewart, will submit two NHRA entries with factory Dodge/Mopar backing.

Kurt Busch in his #22 2011 Shell Pennzoil Dodge Charger Cup Car. (Embraces).

In November, NASCAR President Steve Phelps held a “State of Sport” speech to inform the public of the direction NASCAR is headed toward the 2022 season. Phelps took questions, and was asked about recent rumors about Dodge and other manufacturers entering the sport. “The three existing OEMs are thrilled with that,” Phelps said. “Our racing teams are happy about it. We’re happy about it. It’s widely rumored that Dodge is one of those or closer. I won’t confirm or deny that. It’s important. We haven’t failed at the fact that we want to have a new OEM in our sport. We are late with the epidemic.”

“However, we are an attractive place that I think OEMs are getting into the sport. Now is an important opportunity for them to do that because of the next generation car. I also think that the fact that this sport is growing and it has a relevance that didn’t exist decades ago is causing some real interest from manufacturers. Others original equipment”.

But in recent days, according to what I reported EssentiallySports.comSteve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s director of operations, suggested that a fourth manufacturer could be announced very soon.

“We have a daily conversation with[OEM]in particular close to the finish line, depending on who you ask,” O’Donnell said. “It would be great for the sport if we could get that. But I think ideally if we could get to five, that would be great.”

O’Donnell explained that the main reason NASCAR turned to the next generation car was because of electricity. A movement the Dodge brand is currently poised to embrace with the launch of the all-new 2023 Dodge Hornet later this year, and the next-generation Dodge Charger (LF) and Dodge Challenger (LB) debuting in 2024.

Brad Keselowski celebrates his victory in the #2 Miller Light Dodge Charger NASCAR Cup. (Dodges).

“Part of the reason we’re going to the next generation platform has been to get interest. You know, there’s a big push for electrification and where is that going and how is that going to fit into our platform location,” O’Donnell said. “So that’s one of the reasons, we’re open to that as well, to attract new OEMs.”

In front of the Dodge E-Muscle Concept. (Embraces).

With Dodge looking to unveil a concept version of its all-new electric car eMuscle in August, this could be a great time to announce a return to NASCAR racing. Given that the next-generation car is heading toward electrification around the same time that the electrified next-generation Dodge Challenger BEV will begin hitting dealers, it could be one of the performance brand’s greatest marketing ploys in recent years.

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