DAYTONA BEACH FLA. – Dodge is returning to NASCAR. Sergio Marchionne the CEO of FCA the parent company of Dodge confirmed the news Sunday.
Marchionne was at Daytona International Speedway as part of the Ferrari Challenge World Finals which wrapped up Sunday. FCA owns Ferrari and Marchionne is CEO of that famous brand.
Sunday when I asked him if he wanted to see Dodge back in NASCAR, he didn’t hesitate to answer.
“Yes I’d love to,” he said. “I talked to Jim France (executive vice-president of NASCAR) about this just last night.”
Dodge officially left NASCAR in 2012. The decision however came in 2009. Only Penske Racing was left campaigning Dodge and they moved to Ford in 2012.
“I’m the one that made the decision to pull Dodge out,” Marchionne said Sunday. “I am the guilty party at the table
“In 2009 we came out of bankruptcy,” he added. “We couldn’t (justify) racing in NASCAR when I was trying to pay bills and make payroll.”
The new company under which Dodge can now be found is Fiat-Chrysler America. The new company was established in 2014 and is now very successful.
“I think we’re in a different place now,” Marchionne said Sunday.
At Homestead prior to the final race of the season, NASCAR CEO Brian France confirmed that the sanctioning body was in discussions to bring in another manufacturer.
“But we’re not in a position to make that announcement,” France said at the time.
Whether those earlier comments by France are related to Sundays is a matter on speculation. However one fact is certain; the man who elected to withdraw Dodge from NASCAR, Sergio Marchionne, is now ready to get back in.
“We need to find the right way to come back in,” Marchionne said.
“I’ve agreed with both Jim and Lesa (France-Kennedy ISC CEO) to come back to the issue in short order,” he added.
An official from NASCAR later said:
“There is increasing excitement around NASCAR,” David Higdon VP of communications said in an emailed statement. “We continue to have on-going dialogue with a number of auto manufacturers about their interest in joining our sport. We look forward to exploration with them on this topic.”