Why is Dodge not in NASCAR? Everything you need to know

Why is Dodge not in NASCAR? Everything you need to know

Ciku Njuguna
updated at October 29, 2023 at 12:12 PM

Until 2012, Dodge was a popular brand in NASCAR and Daytona races. However, this was the third time the brand was conspicuously absent from NASCAR after their ban in 1971 and 1964. Discover why Dodge is not in NASCAR and get a deeper understanding of the history of the car manufacturer.

Why is Dodge not in NASCAR?
The 2016 Dodge Viper was driven by Dean Kearney at Goodwood on July 13th, 2018, in Chichester, England. Photo by Michael Cole/Corbis.
Source: Getty Images

Why are Dodge and Chrysler not in NASCAR? The American car manufacturer holds a rich racing history that started in 1950 with the Diplomat, the company's first-ever hardtop coupe. This article dives into an extensive analysis of all the possible reasons why Dodge is not in NASCAR anymore.

Why is Dodge not in NASCAR?

With four Challenger and Charger cars in the 2012 Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series competitions, Stellantis announced the end of their partnership with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. In a statement released by Stellantis Chief Design Officer, Ralph Gilles said,

"We have spent five months working to identify and evaluate all options for our continued involvement in NASCAR. In the end, we simply could not develop the right structure."
Why did they take Dodge out of NASCAR?
Juan Pablo Montoya drives the #42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge during the NASCAR Busch Series Ford 300 on November 18, 2006, at Homestead-Miami Superspeedway, Florida. Photo by Chris Trotman NASCAR.
Source: Getty Images

In response, the former NASCAR CEO, Brian France, was hopeful that the automobile manufacturers would return as they had before. He said,

"Dodge has been a great partner for many years. They made a business decision not to return in 2013, as they did in 1977 before returning in 2001. We wish them well and hope they will choose to return at a later date."

Why is Dodge not involved in NASCAR?

Rather than a ban, the manufacturer opted to pull out of their partnership with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing at the end of the 2012 racing season. A report by the Los Angeles Times revealed that the car manufacturer's inability to strike a favourable deal with stock car racing teams was the reason for their withdrawal. Scroll down for a brief history of the up-and-down relationship between Dodge and NASCAR.

Why doesn't NASCAR have Dodge cars?
Driver Charlie Clotzbac (Left) #99 and Bobby Allison (Right) #22 race their Dodges on May 9, 1970, at the Rebel 400 race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. Photo by Dozier Mobley.
Source: Getty Images

Why was Dodge not allowed in NASCAR in 1965?

The American car brand joined the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing in 1953. Until 1965, they proved to be top performers, with their first win coming in February 1953 from Coronet driver Lee Petty at the Palm Beach Speedway. He also took home the 1954 title.

In 1964, the Dodge Polara and Plymouth Belvedere showed up with the 426 Hemi engine, one of the most powerful engines in the race. As a result, the brands won 26 of 61 races in the 1964 season. While the Hemi engine produced faster cars, it was soon disallowed from NASCAR in the same season. The ban is also linked to the manufacturer's inability to mass produce the 426 Hemi engine for the general public.

Why was Dodge banned from NASCAR in 1970?

The Dodge Charger joined the circuit in 1966. Fitted with unique aero-car features, including rear wings and a sloping nose cone, the Charger became one of the first cars to reach record speeds above 200 mph (321.9 km/h).

Will Dodge enter NASCAR?
Marty Robbins drives the KLAC 570 Dodge to an eighth-place finish during the 1972 Miller 500 - NASCAR on Ontario Motor Speedway. Photo by Gerry Stiles/The Enthusiast Network.
Source: Getty Images

In March 1970, Buddy Baker drove the Charger Daytona, reaching 200.447 mph (322.59 km/h) in a tire test, surpassing his previous 200.096 mph (322.023 km/h) record at the Talladega Superspeedway. In that season, Bobby Isaac drove the Charger, earning 11 wins, with 32 top-fives and 36 career races.

Why is the Dodge Daytona not in NASCAR racing? The 1970 season saw the Chrysler-owned company reach new heights with the more powerful engine and the aerodynamic car. Soon after, NASCAR banned the use of aero cars with engines larger than 305 cubic inches.

Why did Dodge leave NASCAR in 2012?

Since 2003, Penske has been fielding Dodge stock cars for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In 2012, the racing team opted to switch back to their former partner, Ford. In a statement, Roger Penske said,

"Penske Racing has had and continues to have a terrific relationship with Dodge, and we thank them for their partnership. We look forward to rejoining the Ford Racing program beginning in 2013."
Why did Dodge quit NASCAR?
The #93 Dodge Viper of Ben Keating kicks up water during practice for the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 28, 2016, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo by Brian Cleary.
Source: Getty Images

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the manufacturer has overcome numerous challenges, including Chrysler's bankruptcy and multiple ownership changes. However, Penske Racing's switch to Ford in 2012 became the straw that broke the camel's back. Efforts by the stock car manufacturers to replace their major racing team were fruitless, leaving them without a driver or a team for the 2013 season.

Is Dodge coming back to NASCAR?

The question on fans' minds is, will Dodge return to racing? In a 2021 State of the Sport address, NASCAR President Steve Phelps revealed that the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was in negotiation with top stock car manufacturers. When asked about Dodge's return, he said,

"There are some discussions that are going on with new original equipment manufacturers that would come into the sport. It has been widely rumoured that Dodge is one of those or the closest. I will not confirm or deny that."
Why was Dodge taken out of NASCAR?
General Lee, a famous orange Dodge Charger emblazoned with the Confederate flag from the television series 'The Dukes of Hazzard,' August 1982. Photo by CBS Photo Archive.
Source: Getty Images

Race's end

In conclusion, the reason why Dodge is not in NASCAR can be attributed to several factors, including finance, strategic priorities, and regulatory challenges. While the brand has a rich history in the sport, the decision to step away appears to be a calculated move in the ever-evolving landscape of motorsports. Fans still anticipate a potential Dodge return, preserving NASCAR's competitive spirit.

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Ciku Njuguna photo
Ciku Njuguna
Ciku Njuguna is a journalist with 3 year’s experience in content creation based in Kenya. She currently covers sports personnel as well as team biographies.