Wishful thinking or harbinger of the future? Multiple voices inside the Dodge camp are insisting that several teams -- that's teams, plural -- have contacted them about running Dodge in 2013 now that Penske Racing has opted to switch to Ford.
Dodge SRT CEO Ralph Gilles and company spokesmen have used some variant of the phrase "phones ringing off the hook" in repeated public comments, starting with Sunday's revelation of the 2013 Dodge Charger. You can see it in the photo above; clearly that's a far cry from the current box that every team runs.
The unveiling was planned before Dodge got the news that it would be a lame-duck manufacturer. Still, the company is pressing forward with plans to remain in NASCAR, perhaps on multiple fronts. "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," Dodge spokesman Dan Reid told the Detroit Free Press.
The question, of course, is which teams could even conceivably make the switch. Hendrick, Roush, Childress and now Penske are all locked in tight with their current manufacturers. Gibbs is a possibility, but Toyota has worked too hard to get into NASCAR to let a marquee team like that go free. It will cost Dodge tremendous money to lure a team away from another manufacturer, but if it were the right team, it could be a sound investment.
Perhaps a combination of smaller and second-tier teams, or battlefield promotions from the Nationwide Series, could serve, but one key will be Penske's performance this year. If Dodge can demonstrate that it can take the team from two Chasers to two legitimate championship contenders, then those phones really will ring off the hook ... or off the table, since nobody's phone sits on a hook anymore.