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Can Dodge Rekindle Its Fanbase with Its Return to NASCAR?

  • Car Talk
  • Silas Smith
  • 5 minutes

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Mopar or No Car! Dodge is one manufacturer that has a handful of memorable races and wins in NASCAR. Unfortunately, they no longer have a space in the competition anymore, and the space left by them is still vacant. Today we’ll look at what happened between Dodge and NASCAR, their memorable moments, and whether they’ll ever return to NASCAR. 

It won’t be wrong to say that NASCAR and its fans have been longing for another manufacturer to join its current lineup of Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota as the fourth manufacturer. And the news of Dodge contemplating a return to the track has added fuel to their hopes.  

Although Dodge’s return to NASCAR seemed imminent, the latest information from reputable sources suggests that negotiations between the two parties have stalled, leaving fans disheartened. 

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History of Dodge and NASCAR 

Dodge had an impressive debut in NASCAR. Entering the NASCAR scene in 1953, its driver Lee Petty registered its Dodge’s first victory on February 1 at the Palm Beach Speedway on his Dodge Coronet. Petty then handed Dodge its first championship title in 1954.  

The Hemi 

The year 1964 saw Dodge introducing a 426 cubic D.O.H.C. V8, producing a massive 425 hp and close to 472 lb-ft of torque, dubbed the ‘Hemi.’ The Hemi engine came out as an aftermath of Dodge’s war equipment manufacturing expertise, from which they adopted the hemispherical combustion chamber and put it into their V8 engines.  

The 426 Hemi oozed massive power, was lightweight, and, most importantly, did its job very well. i.e., to win! The Hemi reigned supreme in most of the races that happened around 1964, just like Mercedes-AMG and its drivers dominated Formula One from 2014 to 2020. However, this success didn’t last long, as NASCAR straightway banned the Hemi from its races. Dodge had to settle with non-hemi engine cars in the following years, following which we saw the Dodge charger entering the scene in 1966, which was a smashing success.  

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The Dodge Charger Daytona: Why was it banned from NASCAR? 

Dodge’s answer to the Hemi ban was the Daytona that came up a few years later, in 1969. The car had a peculiar design language, with a nose cone and huge rear wings, which gave them the name “Winged Warriors.”  Making its NASCAR debut in 1970, the Daytona, driven by Buddy Baker, clocked a mammoth speed of 200.117 mph at the Talladega Superspeedway. This was a feat never achieved by any other constructor in NASCAR.  


The Dodge Daytona won two races in 1969 and won four more in 1970. The Plymouth Superbird, which replaced it in 1970, went on to win eight races that year. This obviously caught the attention of NASCAR, following which they banned aero-spec cars and cars with engines bigger than 305 cubic inches, stating that they were too different from typical street cars.  

The legendary Richard Petty, nicknamed “The King,” and Neil Bonnett both raced Dodges in NASCAR throughout the years. On November 20, 1977, Neil Bonnett gave Dodge their last victory before the company quit NASCAR in 1984. 

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Dodge’s recent stints in NASCAR 

Dodge’s most recent stint at NASCAR was during 2001-2012. The carmaker was associated with Team Penske, where driver Brad Keselowski handed them a championship in 2012. Keselowski had a dream run, capturing five victories, thirteen top-five finishes, and twenty-three top-ten finishes in 2012. He also gave Dodge a much-needed boost by bringing home a cup-level championship for the first time since 1975. 

However, Penske gave Dodge a shocker by announcing its decision to switch to Ford in 2013. This was a final nail in the coffin for Chrysler, who had been struggling with issues including the great automotive industry crisis from 2008-2010. This forced them to make an exit. 

You might also be interested in: How Long Do Dodge Chargers Last?

Is Dodge coming back to NASCAR? 

There’s no clear picture regarding Dodge’s return to NASCAR. The latest news coming from reliable sources is that the talks between Dodge and NASCAR representatives have been unsuccessful. Dodge has clarified that they are not considering getting into any form of racing other than NHRA. 


Electric hopes 

Just like any manufacturer, Dodge, too, has been contemplating an electric future. The fact that their electric and hybrid model innovations align with NASCAR’s plans to switch to the sustainability space reinforces the speculation that the carmaker is coming back to the racetrack. Though a NASCAR all-electric exhibition series was in the pipeline, reports now suggest that it would be delayed, and some have speculated that Dodge had some hand in this. 


Dodge’s return to NASCAR would be a huge win for the sport and a source of excitement for fans, but it seems unlikely that this will happen anytime soon. The return of Dodge, which has a long history of success in NASCAR racing, would add a new dimension of excitement to the sport and likely bring in new viewers. Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed! 

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