Dodge departure leaves teams searching for manufacturer support
Sprint Cup teams flirting with a move to Dodge will try to land other manufacturer deals for next season now that Dodge has decided to leave the sport after this season.
Richard Petty Motorsports, a Ford team, and Furniture Row Racing, a Chevrolet team, both had contemplated moves to Dodge before the announcement Tuesday that the manufacturer will not field a Sprint Cup car next year. RPM fields cars for Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola while Furniture Row fields a car for Regan Smith.
“RPM is still looking at all their options as far as manufacturers go,” said Ambrose, who is 18th in the standings. “For the sport, Dodge pulling out was not a great thing. It’s been really healthy to have four manufacturers in the sport. As a fan of NASCAR, I’m disappointed that Dodge has taken that choice. I understand it, though.
“For us, we’re building to the future at RPM and I look forward to playing my part and helping them make good choices. It’s exciting times for RPM.”
It would appear that RPM’s options are limited. Chevrolet (13 cars) and Toyota (seven) appear to be content with their number of teams. RPM likely will return to Ford, but it has added Penske Racing to its lineup for next season.
Furniture Row has a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing for cars and Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines.
“What it does is it allowed us get focused on what we’re doing now and what we’re doing for next year,” Furniture Row Racing general manager Joe Garone said. “All of our contracts were open after this year. We’re starting to meet with (Childress) this weekend and start working on that.”
Now that it has a good idea of its manufacturer situation, Garone said the team can also focus on Smith, who’s contract is up after this season.
“Now that that is behind us, we’ll go into that process of evaluating where we’re at, looking at the whole thing and trying to get everything done,” Garone said.
The lack of a Dodge program also means that Penske Racing, which is switching from Dodge to Ford next year, now has an engine shop that will no longer produce Cup engines. It had considered siphoning off the shop to an engine program that would build Dodge engines.
Penske will use Roush Yates Engines next year, meaning that it will have the same power as Roush Fenway Racing.
“The hope is that Penske and Doug Yates can work together and we can have a net positive and our engines can be better,” Roush Fenway driver Carl Edwards said. “Any time you bring new people in and you have people working and sharing ideas, you have the opportunity for that, so that’s huge.
“The engine thing could be great for us. When they first announced Penske coming to Ford, that’s the first thing a lot of us thought about was, ‘Hey, maybe we can work with their engine shop.’”
Edwards teammate Greg Biffle said he didn’t think there would be much of a difference.
“I think we are all so close on power right now, I don’t think it’s going to be a huge difference,” Biffle said. “It might help our engine program have a little bit more R&D money to help develop our engines, but I really feel like we’re pretty close on power right now.” Sporting News