In a surprising announcement yesterday, Penske Racing said it would switch manufacturers to Ford at the end of the season. The team left Ford in 2003 and in recent years became the premier organization for Dodge. Together the two had a reasonable amount of success racking up 23 wins (a little less impressive considering 8 of those came in the first season).
It sounds like the logistics of the switch are still being worked out, but this represents a real boon for Ford. Beginning in 2013, they’ll be the manufacturer for three of the sport’s most storied teams.
Dodge on the other hand is left in a pretty difficult position without a single top-flight organization representing them in the sport (sorry Robby Gordon fans). The teams that defected in recent years left because of, among other things, cost and performance issues and not all did so on good terms.
One of the fundamental problems facing Dodge now is that it’s going to have find an organization that can build it’s own engines, or Dodge is going to have to start supplying them. Whichever direction it decides to go, there is going to have to be a serious investment in infrastructure.
It seems unlikely any of the usual suspects would be inclined to leave their current manufacturer for Dodge, though I’ll never say never. Either way, this presents Dodge with a challenge in either lifting an existing organization like say Front Row or Turner, or offering a larger organization enough of a financial incentive that saying no would be very difficult.
This unexpected storyline will no doubt become one of the more intriguing ones to watch this season. Stay tuned.