CEO of Fiat Chrysler Sergio Marchionne has added to the silly season madness that has been the 2016 offseason.
Multiple reports are circulating claiming that Marchionne has spoken with NASCAR personnel, including NASCAR’s Executive Vice President Jim France, about bringing the Dodge brand back to NASCAR.
“Yes, I’d love to,” Marchionne said in regards to Dodge returning to NASCAR. “I talked to Jim France just last night. I’m the one who pulled Dodge out, so I’m the guilty party at the table.”
Dodge pulled out of NASCAR following the conclusion of the 2012 season due to funding. Marchionne claims that funding its NASCAR program, while recovering from a 2009 bankruptcy period, would “have been a bit of a stretch.”
“I think we’re in a different place now. I think if possible, we will come back to NASCAR. I think we need to find the right way to come back in,” Marchionne said. “I’ve agreed with both Jim and Lesa (France-Kennedy) to come back to the issue in short order.”
During championship weekend in Miami, NASCAR CEO Brian France stated that the topic of adding another manufacturer to NASCAR has been a topic that has been discussed behind closed doors.
“We’re not in a position to make that announcement.” France stated.
The Dodge brand has seen success in NASCAR. In 2001, the Detroit nameplate returned to NASCAR with the backing of Ray Evernham and drivers Bill Elliott, and Jeremy Mayfield. The brand helped field other teams throughout its 11 year cycle in the modern era including PENSKE, and Richard Petty Motorsports. When Dodge departed from NASCAR in 2012, Brad Keselowski of PENSKE Racing brought Dodge and PENSKE, their first NASCAR Premier Series Championship. Dodge power helped also deliver Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 title in 2008 with the help of Ryan Newman, and Kurt Busch, finishing 1-2 in the Great American Race.