Dodge is learning it has plenty of options to remain in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next season despite its surprising breakup with Penske Racing.
After unveiling its 2013 Dodge Charger on Sunday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dodge SRT brand CEO Ralph Gilles said he's been pleased with the amount of interest from Cup teams.
"Based on the way our phone is ringing, I'm not too concerned (about 2013)," Gilles said. "With every storm, there's a sunny day later. (The Penske breakup) was unexpected, to be honest with you, but we're ready for it. We've been knocked down a few times in our history, and we come back."
Penske Racing announced March 1 it was leaving Dodge for Ford in 2013. Gilles offered few hints as to Penske's reason for the move, but said one factor may have been the manufacturer's reluctance to offer Penske a five-year contract (Dodge preferred more flexibility).
Gilles said Dodge hopes to pick a new team – or teams – by mid-summer, though he couldn't talk about the potential partners on the record.
"I would love to kind of sit with you at a bar and discuss this," Gilles said with a laugh. "There's a lot of options. It's a big deal to reinvent how we go about it. We may look at multiple teams. ... We're going to have some fun with this."
Dodge is making a list and will evaluate all of its options, Gilles said, and could change the way it conducts business in NASCAR.
In the meantime, Gilles insisted the manufacturer will do everything it can to help Penske win in 2012.
"All I'm going to say about Mr. Penske is I would love to be the company that gives him his first championship in NASCAR," Gilles said. "That's how we're going to approach 2012: We're going to race as hard as ever."
(Photo: Jeff Gluck / SB Nation)