Despite having just unveiled a 2013-spec Dodge Charger for NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, the brand will be leaving NASCAR at the end of the 2012 season. The news was confirmed on an official conference call with the media this afternoon.
Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of SRT, said, "Dodge has decided to withdraw from NASCAR competition at the end of the 2012 season." Gilles' official statement on the matter can be seen in the video below.
The first signs came this week, with the Dodge Charger race car not showing for the first tests of the next-gen cars this week at Martinsville.
Gilles added that with the withdrawal of Penske Racing, the sole Dodge team since 2009, leaving the brand for Ford products for 2013, meant Dodge was without a team to field their cars, effectively shutting them out. The motorsports group worked to put together another package to stay in NASCAR, but, Gilles said, "We couldn't develop the right structure."
Gilles added that "this decision was not based on budgets," and stated that the Dodge and SRT brands are very happy with their existing involvement in motorsports, including ALMS, rallycross and other activities.
Dodge remains committed to the remainder of the 2012 season with Penske Racing, including support for and intention to come out on top of the Chase for the Cup, according to Gilles.
Gilles said during the Q&A session following the call, "The [Penske] decision to go with Ford caught us by surprise, and we have not recovered since."
To the Dodge NASCAR fans, Gilles said, "We feel for you...we're just as devastated as everyone else. It's with a heavy, heavy heart that we hold this conference... We hope they understand we don't want to just show up when we go racing, we want to win.