Roger Penske - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Ford was the final engine maker to bring its updated FR9 to NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup Series. It was also the first to show its new 2013 stock car body. Now Ford has rejoined with one of the most successful racing entrepreneurs as Roger Penske and his Penske Racing team are leaving Dodge/SRT Motorsports after 10 years to run two Ford Fusion Cup cars in 2013 and a brace of Ford Mustang racers in NASCAR's Nationwide Series, beginning in 2013.
Penske Racing spent nine years with Ford from 1994-2002, amassing 27 wins and 33 pole positions among three drivers. Its teams finished in the Top 10 with a result of 48.6 percent of the time, taking top ten results in 228 of its 469 Ford starts. Penske first raced with Ford in 1976-77, before coming back to the Blue Oval in 1994. Through Penske Racing's 524 total NASCAR starts with Ford power, there are 28 wins and 42 poles.
Roger Penske emphasized that this decision - made before the 54th running of the Daytona 500 - had nothing to do with money and everything to do with competition. Penske said it was a tough decision but that his team "needed to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and we're trying to do it. Having this opportunity to work with benchmark organizations like Roush Yates Engines and Roush-Fenway Racing" was extremely important to Penske.
"We're looking at the technical information at Ford and that was very important to us," Penske said. With a large investment in his engine shop - he has dynamometers and milling machines in-house - Penske expects his engine department of 70 people to have a significant part in the build-up of Ford power for next year. "We looked at the strength of these multi-car teams," before making this decision and he realized that Ford was the right place for Penske Racing to go in 2013.
Penske said several times that he is anxious to fulfill his commitment to Dodge and its SRT brand throughout the 2012 NASCAR racing season - in both Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. "We are committed to Dodge for 2012 and will work to win races, make the Chase and contend for the championship," he declared. "While we did early work on the 2012 Dodge Charger, we expect Dodge to take over the project as there are still no final specs on the car," which will be shown to the public for the first time during the Las Vegas Sprint Cup race.
Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports said, "Dodge has enjoyed a successful partnership with Penske Racing for 10 years. It's a partnership that has produced results for both parties on and off the track. Roger has made a business decision," Gilles noted, "to accept an offer with another engine manufacturer. We wish Roger and Penske Racing much success in the future - we are committed to work with Penske Racing to compete at the highest level, win races and contend for championships this season."
Jamie Allison - courtesy Ford RacingEnlarge Photo
Ford Racing director Jamie Allison admitted, "It was important to get this agreement in place early so that we can plan ahead for the debut of the new 2013 NASCAR Ford Fusion. We will work with Roush Fenway on the final development of the new car during this season, but we want to be able to have our teams building their new cars for 2013 before the end of the year, as the transition to the new body is taking place."
Allison believes this relationships will "strengthen the Ford Racing program. With the operations and technology resources Penske brings from all forms of racing, we know they will be a strong addition to our program and we look forward to working with them and all our teams to create a stronger Ford NASCAR program with even greater depth."