A number of teams have contacted Dodge about NASCAR racing in the wake of the loss of Penske Racing starting in 2013, the company said.
“The phones are ringing and there is a lot of interest out there,” said spokesman Dan Reid.
SRT Motorsports and Dodge unveiled a new Charger race car for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday.
The new car is designed to more closely resemble the street version of the car. Rule changes adopted by NASCAR allowed designers to develop a car with a front, rear and sides with characteristics drawn from the regular production Charger.
Chrysler’s SRT Motorsports and Dodge already had plans to debut its 2013 Charger on Sunday before Penske Racing announced plans to switch to Ford starting next year. Still, the event gave Dodge an opportunity to showcase the car to fans and other possible teams.
“We are going to take our time and come up with a plan that will hopefully see us return to Daytona next year with a new team,” Reid said.
The surprise loss of the high-profile Penske Racing team puts Dodge in a bind, said John Driscoll, senior vice president of partnership development for JMI Motorsports in Chicago. Penske announced earlier this month that it will switch to racing Ford Fusions starting next year in a five-year deal.
Driscoll said Dodge can either spend a lot of money to lure a top team away from another manufacturer or it can settle for a second-tier NASCAR racing team. A brand like Dodge, which markets its racing and motor sports heritage, can hardly afford to be absent from NASCAR or represented only by a second-tier team given the sport’s legendary fan loyalty and widespread popularity, Driscoll said.
The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 — which aired Feb. 27 on Fox — drew 36.5 million viewers.
“My gut is they don’t take this lying down,” Driscoll said.