Dodge wants to get back into NASCAR. Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — 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 brand.
When asked if he wanted to see Dodge back in NASCAR, he didn’t hesitate.
“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 came in 2009. Penske Racing was the last team campaigning Dodge before when it moved to Ford in 2012.
“I’m the one that made the decision to pull Dodge out,” Marchionne said. “I am the guilty party at the table. In 2009 we came out of bankruptcy; we couldn’t (justify) racing in NASCAR when I was trying to pay bills and make payroll.”
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US was established in 2014.
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 Sunday’s is a matter on speculation. However, one fact is certain: The man who elected to withdraw Dodge from NASCAR is now ready to return to American stock car auto racing.
“We need to find the right way to come back in,” Marchionne said.
Exactly when that will be remains the question.
“I’ve agreed with both Jim and Lesa (France Kennedy, International Speedway Corporation CEO and NASCAR board member) to come back to the issue in short order,” he added.
NASCAR spokesman David Higdon added, ““There is increasing excitement around NASCAR. 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.”