With only three original equipment manufacturers competing in stock car racing since 2013, NASCAR has had to take life as it comes in regards to the cars raced in their top three series. What they're trying to do with the Next Gen car is grab life by the horns and entice new automakers into the sport -- one of which has had a long-standing on again, off again relationship with NASCAR.
During his state of the sport address on Nov. 5, NASCAR president Steve Phelps directly acknowledged rumors that Dodge was looking at a potential return to the sport amid the introduction of the Next Gen car in 2022. Dodge has been floated among a number of prospective OEMs that may enter NASCAR in the Next Gen era, particularly given its history in the sport and its status as an American auto maker.
Here's what Phelps said:
"It's been widely rumored that Dodge is one of those or closest. I won't confirm or deny that. It is important. We've made no bones about the fact that we want to have a new OEM in our sport. I think we got delayed with the pandemic. With that said, we are an attractive place I believe for OEMs to come into the sport. Now is an important opportunity for them to do that because of the Next Gen car.
I also believe the fact that the sport is growing and has a relevance that it hasn't had in decades is causing some real interest from other OEMs. Nothing to report at this particular point. It is important. I would suggest things are progressing or I would say that things are progressing. When we have something to announce, we will."
According to a report by Gary Gastelu of Fox News, a spokesman for Dodge had no comment on Phelps' remarks. It should be noted, however, that the company has recently launched a new business plan focused on its V8 engines and racing parts business.
After furthering its brand's notoriety through NASCAR in the 1960s, with cars such as the Dodge Charger and Dodge Daytona excelling on the sport's biggest and fastest tracks, Dodge returned to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2001 for an 11-year stint in the sport.
Although Dodge enjoyed on-track success during that period, it eventually left NASCAR after the 2012 season. Team Penske left the automaker for Ford and was unable to align itself with another top team for the introduction of the Gen 6 car in 2013.
Dodge exited NASCAR on a high note, as it won the 2012 Cup Series championship with Brad Keselowski.
Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota are currently the only three OEMs competing in NASCAR. An entirely new OEM has not joined the sport's national levels since Toyota in 2004.