Dodge has confirmed it will withdraw from NASCAR at the end of this year after failing to strike a partnership with a racing team for the 2013 season.
Rebranded SRT Motorsports for the 2012 season, Dodge's future in America's premiere motorsport category took a hit in February when its only team, Penske Racing, which runs two Chargers in the Sprint Cup and two Challengers in the Nationwide series, announced it was switching to Ford for 2013.
SRT Motorsports president and CEO Ralph Gilles told fans in a video statement the company tried hard to secure a partnership to continue in NASCAR in 2013 but said a deal could not be struck that would allow it to run a team to its high standards.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I tell you this message today because I realise how many motorsports fans are out there,” Gilles said.
“We’re really sorry and we really apologise that we could not pull the deal together again to operate at our standards.
“Our relationship with Penske was very unique, we had a bit of a one-stop shop situation, so replicating that has been quite difficult – trying to get the engine shop, the teams, and all of the different components required to go racing with confidence in 2013.
“We’ve made the decision to pull out of the season because we just simply couldn’t put a deal together in time to go racing with confidence.”
Gilles insisted the decision to pull out of the category was forced by structural issues rather than budgetary ones.
“One thing I’d like to make really clear is that we’ve actually invested more in NASCAR this year than ever before,” he said.
“We’ve more than tripled our trackside activation, our fan engagement, our website presence, everything we could do to really get the most out of NASCAR.”
Dodge’s current stint in NASCAR has lasted 12 seasons, in which it has recorded 55 race wins, including three this year. It returned to the sport in 2001 after a 24-year absence following its initial exit in 1977.
Gilles said SRT Motorsports would fight out the rest of the 2012 NASCAR season and from there would focus on its other categories, including Le Man Series racing, RallyCross, Torque Racing and Supercross.
He gave no indication of when – or if – Dodge/SRT Motorsports would make a comeback to NASCAR.
“We love motorsports and we’ll find a way to make this all work in the future,” Gilles said.