Report: Dodge’s return to Cup likely dead

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As NASCAR courts new manufacturers, a return by Dodge to the Cup Series reportedly is off the table.

In a story posted Friday afternoon on The Drive.com website, longtime automotive journalist Steven Cole Smith reported that Dodge executives had decided NASCAR was “too complex and, more importantly, too expensive” after researching the project since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne declared his interest last December. Fiat Chrysler is the parent company for Dodge.

During a Ferrari event at Daytona International Speedway, Marchionne said “it is possible we can come back to NASCAR” after meeting with NASCAR vice chairman Jim France and board member Lesa France Kennedy.

Dodge and NASCAR executives met in January in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show (where Toyota unveiled its 2018 production and racing Camry). A few weeks later, Roush Yates Engines CEO Doug Yates it would be feasible for Dodge to be back in Cup by 2018 because of its existing engine architecture from its final season in 2012 (when it won the championship with Brad Keselowski).

But there hadn’t been many rumblings about Dodge in NASCAR since shortly after 2017 Speedweeks, though manufacturer involvement in NASCAR remains a hot topic. Last week, Keselowski said “adding another manufacturer is the most important thing that we could do to this sport right now.”

Senior vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM Radio this week that NASCAR aggressively was pursuing new automakers in ongoing conversations. “It’s a tough process,” he said. “There’s a lot to consider doing this, but that is a huge goal for the sport right now.”