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March 1st, 2012
Penske Racing will join the roster of Ford teams competing in the Sprint Cup series from 2013, the manufacturer announced Wednesday.
In a shock move Penske – one of NASCAR’s top organisations – will leave Dodge behind in favour of a multi-year deal with Ford.
Next year’s Daytona 500 will therefore mark the return of Penske Racing’s NASCAR program to the blue oval brand after first running Fords in 1976 and 1977 before returning for a successful second stint between 1994 and 2002. Over the period, they won 27 races and 33 pole positions together.
Penske will join Roush Fenway Racing as the leading contenders for Ford, hoping to bring an end to Chevrolet’s run of consecutive Cup titles, which dates back to 2005 when Kurt Busch won the first championship under the Chase format, driving a Ford Taurus for Roush in 2004.
“It was important to get this agreement in place early so that we can plan ahead for the debut of the new 2013 NASCAR Fusion,” said Jamie Allison, Ford Racing director.
“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 the 2013 season before the end of the year, as the transition to the new body is taking place.
“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.”
Penske Racing came closest to winning the Cup title in 1993 when Rusty Wallace finished championship runner up to Dale Earnhardt, winning 10 out of 31 races at the wheel of a Pontiac.
Last year both of the team’s drivers made the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series. Brad Keselowski won three races en route to finishing fifth in the points, while Kurt Busch won twice and ranked 11th in the championship.
“Penske Racing has had, and continues to have, a terrific relationship with Dodge and we thank them for their partnership and their support over the past 10 years,” said Roger Penske.
“Our organisations have experienced many great memories together and our teams are committed to producing wins and championships with Dodge this season.
“We look forward to rejoining the Ford Racing NASCAR program beginning in 2013. We appreciate the long-term commitment that Ford has made to Penske Racing and for their continued support of the sport.”
Following today’s announcement Penske – as Chip Ganassi Racing – is set to run for rival manufacturers in the two top racing series in the United States. It runs Chevrolet engines in their three-car IndyCar program.
It is uncertain how Dodge will remain in the Sprint Cup series next year as currently Robby Gordon Motorsports is the only other team besides the two Penske cars running the Dodge Charger. It is set to unveil its 2013 car next week at Las Vegas.