In 2001, Dodge returned to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after a more than 20 year break from the organization. Penske Racing joined with the manufacturer in 2003 but in 2012, Penske Racing announced that the team would be switching to Ford. It was a devastating blow that led to Dodge announcing that the manufacturer would not be returning in 2013. This left Dodge fans very disappointed. On Tuesday, October 30, 2012, Dodge fans were given some hope. Though Dodge will not be returning in 2013, the manufacturer is not ruling out a quick comeback in future seasons.
Dodge made the decision to leave NASCAR after Penske Racing switched to Ford. Penske Racing had been the only team in the Sprint Cup Series to use a Dodge. Though there were some teams that were not locked into contracts with other manufacturers, officials at Dodge did not believe that it would be in the best interest of the manufacturer to join a team that was not competitive. It was a sad way to end the manufacturer's comeback.
Although Dodge will best be remembered for its latest run in the series, the manufacturer has been involved in the organization for a long time. Dodge first joined the NASCAR organization in 1950 and won its first race in 1953 with Lee Petty driving. In the 1960s, Dodge was setting records and getting wins. With Richard Petty behind the wheel, it seemed that nothing could stop the manufacturer. After a troubled time in the 1970s, Dodge left NASCAR. It was only in 2001 that Dodge finally returned.
I thought it was disappointing that Dodge was leaving the organization so I think it is good news that a return has not been ruled out. There have been many memorable moments that involved a Dodge. If Dodge is waiting for a top team, it may be a long wait. The top teams are all in contracts with other manufacturers and, for the most part, it seems those teams tend to view that as part of their identity. Dodge has been such a big part of the history of the sport that the manufacturer will almost inevitably return before too long. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.
Kristin Watt has been a NASCAR Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup, fan for as long as she can remember starting way back when she was a little girl and her mother would sit on the couch with her every Sunday during the season to watch the races. Back then, they were fans of Bill Elliott and newcomer Davey Allison.