Dodge Charger

Dodge Leaving NASCAR After 2012 Season

NASCAR's auto manufacturers continue to unveil new cars for 2013. Here's what we know so far.

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Dodge Confirms Departure From NASCAR

Calling it an "extremely difficult decision" and citing its inability to align itself with a team that had the necessary pieces in place to make a deal work, Dodge on Tuesday announced it is withdrawing from NASCAR at the end of the 2012 season.

"We couldn't, unfortunately, put together a puzzle or a structure that made sense to continue our business and competitive objections for next year," said Ralph Gilles, president of Dodge's motorsports division.

The wheels were put in motion for Dodge's departure when Penske Racing -- the lone factory-supported team -- announced in March that it will switch to Ford starting next season. While Dodge insisted at the time that it would remain in the sport, it soon became obvious to all involved that the obstacles were simply too great to overcome.

"This whole thing was complex, more complex than we thought at first, to try and put something together at the level we would like to be at," Gilles said. "It wouldn't make sense to try and hurry a situation together. Back in March when Mr. [Roger] Penske signed up with Ford, that was an aggressive decision on Ford's behalf to really have critical mass, and that is one thing we have to look at in the sport.

"... Unfortunately, that decision caught us by surprise and we have not recovered since."

With no team the caliber of Penske readily available, Dodge faced the prospect of having to sign a midlevel team as a replacement -- not at all a desirable scenario for a manufacturer used to contending for victories, having won 55 Sprint Cup Series races since its return to high-level stock car racing in 2001.

"It's not easy to configure a team at the level we're accustomed to racing and at the level we want to perform at," Gilles said. "Everything we do on the business end, we like to do as well as possible. And not undermining the people that came and talked to us, but at the end of the day, it's a really big machine to put together and do it right."

Gilles did say that Dodge intends to "keep all its options open" regarding a possible return to NASCAR and is in the evaluation phase of what it will do next. Dodge has "no plans of re-appropriating" its NASCAR budget toward other motorsports ventures, he added.

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Reports: Dodge Leaving NASCAR After 2012 Season

It appears NASCAR is losing one of its four auto manufacturers at the conclusion of this season.

Dodge will announce today it is pulling out of NASCAR at the end of this season, according to multiple reports. The story was first reported by ESPN.com's Marty Smith.

Currently, Penske Racing is the only team fielding Dodge entries in NASCAR. When Penske announced earlier this year it was ditching Dodge to join Ford in 2013, it left Dodge scrambling to find a new team.

Dodge had already completed plans for its 2013 model – the Charger – and brand chief Ralph Gilles said plans to find a new team were underway in March.

"Based on the way our phone is ringing, I'm not too concerned (about 2013)," Gilles said at the time. "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."

At that point, there was much speculation as to where Dodge would go. First, an association with Richard Petty Motorsports seemed practical. Then rumors of Dodge bringing IndyCar's Andretti Autosport to NASCAR were all the rage in the spring.

And as recently as Pocono, reports surfaced about Furniture Row Racing hoping to become associated with Dodge.

None of it panned out, and with Dodge not participating in today's first 2013 car test at Martinsville, it became clear the manufacturer was getting late in the process to find a new team.

So where does Dodge go from here? The SRT brand already had begun to focus on a more youthful demographic, like fielding a Dart in Global RallyCross and backing an AMA Supercross team. Those efforts will certainly continue.

As for NASCAR, there will be three manufacturers left – Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota – for teams to choose from. Dodge likely spent the least money of the automakers, but it's still a big blow to the sport. If Dodge is ever to return, it would have to find a team to build its motors in addition to constructing the cars – and since that's a huge investment to make, it seems unlikely to happen anytime soon.

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All Manufacturers Meet NASCAR's 2013 Car Standards, Get Green Light For Production

Done deal.

Based on wind tunnel data from a July 18 test, all four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series manufacturers have met their aerodynamic targets and are ready to race, the sanctioning body announced Monday.

Accordingly, the 2013 Ford Fusion, Chevrolet SS, Dodge Charger and Toyota Camry are ready to hit the track for testing in preparation for their debut in February's season-opening Daytona 500. With the aero targets met, manufacturers can now begin to make parts and pieces for the new cars.

"We commend the manufacturers and our team at the R&D center on all the hard work they've put into this new car," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition. "With all the designs and surface areas of the car now approved, manufacturers can now move forward with building the components needed to outfit their cars.

"The wind tunnel testing we've had with the manufacturers over the past several months has given us the timely and necessary data we needed to come to this confirmation. We believe the new car is going to be a milestone opportunity for our sport, one that our fans will embrace."

Indeed, without exception, the new cars that will debut next year represent a return to greater brand identity than that offered by the generation of race car that preceded them.

Ford, Toyota and Dodge already have revealed their 2013 models. Chevrolet has released only a camouflaged version of its SS, which is based on the Australian-built rear-wheel-drive Holden Commodore.

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Chevrolet To Use Camaro In NASCAR Nationwide Series Next Season

There it sat, blue with white trim, the Camaro that will carry Chevrolet's standard in NASCAR's Nationwide Series next year.

That's right, a Camaro. After initial resistance to the idea of putting its iconic sports car head-to-head against Ford's Mustang, Dodge's Challenger and Toyota's Camry, Chevrolet has introduced an eye-catching car that captures the essence of its street version.

The car was unveiled Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The design elements were the tipping point all along. When the carmakers introduced their new Nationwide models at Talladega in 2009, Chevy stuck with the Impala SS, maintaining that it would be difficult to capture the Camaro's distinctive lines within the competitive parameters set forth by NASCAR.

With a proven ability to match the cars aerodynamically, and with ramped-up production of a wide array of street and racing models, Chevy thought the time was right to race the Camaro in the Nationwide Series.

"Our team of Chevrolet designers and aerodynamic engineers did a fantastic job capturing the great looks and styling cues of the production Camaro, while providing our NASCAR teams with a highly competitive aero platform," said Pat Suhy, manager, Chevrolet Racing Oval Track Group.

"For the remainder of 2012, our engineers will be busy working with Chevy teams on wind tunnel and on-track testing to fine-tune the car in preparation for next year. It will be great to see Camaro compete on the track against its showroom competition, starting with the season opener at Daytona."

Chevrolet currently leads the Nationwide Series in wins, manufacturer standings and in driver championship standings with Elliott Sadler.

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the new Camaro has met the required aero numbers in the wind tunnel and is approved for competition by the sanctioning body.

"I think it's big," Pemberton said at the unveiling. "I think the Camaro-Mustang rivalry and the Challenger rivalry will be good. Anybody can just do a model change with an upgrade to what they're currently running, but to put the effort forward to introduce a completely new model has really meant a lot to us."

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Here are some photos of the new Nationwide Series Camaro, courtesy of General Motors:

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Toyota Becomes Latest Manufacturer To Unveil 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Car

Toyota unveiled the new Camry it will use in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 2013 and beyond on Tuesday, showing reporters a redesigned race car that closely resembles the street version of the popular sedan.

All four of NASCAR's auto manufacturers – Toyota, Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet – are bringing new versions of the so-called COT chassis to Sprint Cup Series racing next year.

A major complaint with the original version of the COT is how unattractive and boxy it was. After adding some manufacturer-specific design elements into the Nationwide Series cars starting in 2011, NASCAR is now letting the auto makers put their own identity into the Sprint Cup Series cars.

While the Ford and Dodge models unveiled earlier this year look a bit racier, the Toyota looks pretty much like a Camry (which apparently is the point of the whole thing).

You can see some of the pictures I took from today's event below:

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Also, here's a short video of Kyle Busch driving the car into today's press conference:

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Chevy Announces 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Car Will Be 'Chevrolet SS'

After a long wait and much speculation, the 2013 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is...........the Chevrolet SS.

No, not the Chevy Impala SS. Not the Chevy Camaro SS. Just the "Chevrolet SS."

What's the Chevy SS, you ask? It's a rear-wheel-drive car coming to the United States at the end of next year (it will be a 2014 model) and is a variation of the Australian-built Holden VF Commodore.

It will be Chevy's first rear-wheel-drive sedan available to U.S. customers in 17 years.

"As a passionate race fan and performance enthusiast, I am thrilled that Chevrolet will deliver a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR racecar in the SS that is closely linked to the performance sedan that will be available for sale," GM North America president Mark Reuss said. "The Chevrolet SS is a great example of how GM is able to leverage its global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience that extends beyond the track. I am personally looking forward to driving it."

Here's a shot of the car released by Chevy (they intentionally tried to make it hard to see the features because the official unveiling hasn't happened yet):

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NASCAR: 2013 Dodge Charger Unveiled As CEO Says Manufacturer Has Options

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."

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(Photo: Jeff Gluck / SB Nation)

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