The History of Dodge in NASCAR and their possible Return

Ahead of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Alex Gallacher looks at the heritage of one of NASCAR's most successful manufacturers, and if they could return to the sport soon.

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BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 27: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 27, 2011 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sergio Marchionne the CEO of Fiat Chrysler announced that he has a big interest in Dodge’s return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Fans are excited at the possibility of the return of one of the sports most favourite manufacturers. Dodge left the sport in 2012 after their flagship team, Team Penske jumped ship to Ford for 2013. However, they did manage to win the championship with Brad Keselowski in 2012, leaving the sport on top. Dodge has had a a long history in NASCAR with their debut coming in 1953 with the Dodge Coronet model. Many famous drivers have piloted Dodges in the past, Bill Elliott, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman among others. Dodge’s potential return has delighted fans and team owners alike. Though it is unclear which teams would jump ship to Dodge. Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske have been rumored. It’s time to take a look at the history of Dodge and their accomplishments, drivers and owners. The storied history is a long one, with about 60 years of historic moments.

The History of Dodge in NASCAR and their possible Return

Notable Drivers

Dodge has been the stable for many amazing racers. One of the most famous racers being Bill Elliott. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville piloted the #9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports from 2001-2003. There he took home four wins for the team and countless most popular driver awards. But Dodge is most famous for three drivers, Richard Petty, David Pearson and Bobby Isaac -the three most winning drivers in a Dodge, combining for 90 wins. Dodge racer Buddy Baker got international recognition when he piloted his #88 Cotton Owens owned Dodge to the first ever lap recorded over 200mph. The lap was officially timed at 200.447mph and was an astonishing feat in 1970. In the modern era of NASCAR, dodge has fielded some of the most talented racers including Ward Burton, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Rusty Wallace, Sterling Marlin, Brad Keselowski and Jeremy Mayfield. Some of the most talented old and young stars have raced in Dodges. Dodge has amassed over 100 wins in their history, and two constructors championships. The Drivers are the huge driving force behind a team, and that’s what makes them competitive week in and week out. When a manufacturer can get these drivers in their stable, it creates these historic moments and sets up a future of amazing racers.

Ray Evernham’s Impact

Dodge has fielded some of the most legendary teams in the modern era of NASCAR. Teams like Richard Petty Motorsports, Team Penske, and Chip Ganassi Racing have all suited their drivers with the famous Ram Horns on the front. The two most famous Dodge teams however are the Iconic Bill Davis Racing and Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Car owner Ray Evernham was the strongest driving force in the 2001 Dodge comeback to NASCAR. Evernham built up a roster of Bill Elliott, and rookie sensation Casey Atwood.

Davis had two veterans in his camp being Dave Blaney and Ward Burton. If there is one thing to Ray Evernham’s credit is that he was essentially the ring master in helping with Dodge’s return in 2001. Evernham was named a team manager and owner for Daimler Chrysler’s return to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He lead the development of the Intrepid R/T race car that debuted at the 2001 Daytona 500. The team was the flagship Dodge team, operating with direct factory backing and sponsorship from Dodge. Bill Elliott went on the claim Evernham’s first win at the Pennzoil Freedom 400 at Homestead- Miami Speedway in 2001.

Dodge’s Accomplishments in NASCAR

Dodge has won two manufacturer’s titles coming in 1970 and 1975. Scoring 17 wins in 1970 and 14 wins in 1975, most of them coming from the King, Richard Petty. Dodge as a manufacturer scored over five Nascar championships with the most recent one coming in 2012 with Team Penske and Brad Keselowski. Dodge has always been a winning manufacturer and it’s parent company Chrysler fielded stiff competition in the 70’s, with Dodge’s sister brand Plymouth being a stiff competitor to them. However, once drivers like David Pearson and Richard Petty defected over to Dodge the popularity of driving Dodges skyrocketed. Dodge has recorded 215 wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and have scored 55 since their short return between 2001-2012. Richard Petty and Bobby Issac currently have the most wins in a Dodge with 37 and 36 respectively. The first ever win in a Dodge was recorded in 1966 at Daytona by Earl Balmer when we won his qualifying race. Four drivers have driven Dodge’s in their championship season, David Pearson in 1966, Bobby Isaac in 1970, Brad Keselowski in 2012 and Richard Petty in 1972, 74 and 75.

Final Thoughts

Is it possible to see a Dodge return? The realistic answer is who knows. It’s all about finding teams willing to switch over. With Ford gaining the star studded driver roster of Stewart- Haas Racing and Toyota gaining Furniture Row in 2016, it really is up in the air. Rumors that have circulated around the series is that RCR and Ganassi could potential defect to Dodge but that is pure rumor. A lot of NASCAR fans are hoping for a Dodge return in order to bring more American Muscle back to NASCAR. With NASCAR in talks about adding a fourth manufacturer, there are speculations that Nissan, Honda or even Volkswagen could take that coveted spot. But fans remain steady, that they want Dodge back and they want it as soon as possible.

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