Over the past few years, we have been constantly monitoring the progress of a possible Dodge return to NASCAR. The recent announcement of Dodge’s partnership with Tony Stewart Racing in the NHRA sparked a lot of interest and rumors about a NASCAR return sometime around 2024. However, a recent post from ex-NASCAR driver Robby Gordon has created a buzz around the NASCAR community.
In a post on his Instagram, Gordon stated…
“Big news today. We’ve been talking with Dodge and it looks like we’re going to go ahead and build a Next-Gen car. You know I left the NASCAR scene when Dodge left the sport. I’ve got the group back together, and we are going to build a Next-Gen car for Watkins Glen.”
It didn’t take long for racing publications to pick up the story, shortly after it was posted. However, Gordon then had to edit the comment of the video to include the line “remember this was April Fools 🎉”. This came after the video was posted on April 2nd, a day after April Fools Day.
Gordon did gain factory support from Dodge in 2008, with a technical, manufacturing, and marketing services agreement with then Gillet-Evernham Motorsports (GEM). After a dismal season, falling back to 33rd place in the points, Gordon then switched to Toyota for the 2009 season. Gordon returned to Dodge for the 2011 season, with his own energy drink, Speed Energy, as a sponsor. He would race a 25-race season with a Dodge, finishing 34th in the standings. Gordon would return to Cup in 2012 with a 5-race run with the Charger, before retiring from NASCAR.
The video caused some of the followers to get upset by the tease of a return to NASCAR. But for those who were logical about the situation, they knew it would take a long time for Dodge to get approval from NASCAR on its desired templates for its version of the Next-Gen car to be approved. Thus, doubtful that the automaker would want to return to NASCAR in the middle of a season, with a non-competitive team.
The reason for Dodge’s departure after the 2012 season, was that it would not give Penske Racing the multi-year contract that they wanted. Instead, Penske as Dodge’s only factory-supported team jumped ship to Ford, leaving the manufacturer without a competitive organization to race their cars. Soon after, an announcement to abandon NASCAR entirely was made.
For those of you wanting Dodge to return to NASCAR’s elite series, the Tony Stewart rumors are still in full swing. The latest rumors have Dodge possibly returning in 2024, as Stewart-Haas Racing is currently under contract with Ford Performance until the end of the 2023 season.
Stewart expressed his disappointment with the automaker after he apparently tried for the last four years to hire Larson but ultimately Ford blocked it. Ford based the decision on Larson’s use of a racial slur during an iRacing session that ultimately caused him to be suspended from NASCAR competition and required him to participate in a variety of classes before he could be reinstated. During the three years prior, Larson was under contract at Chip Ganassi Racing. Nevertheless, Larson would go on to win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship with Hendrick Motorsports.
A possible 2024 debut, would also align the manufacturer with NASCAR’s future plans of electrifying their Next-Gen car. NASCAR has stated that the Next-Gen car was designed to accept not only internal combustion engines (ICEs) but gas-electric hybrid and all-electric propulsion systems as well. NASCAR has expressed its intentions to have its Next-Gen car provide some source of electrification going into the 2024 season.
The electrification decision would go hand and hand with Dodge’s own electrification of its upcoming next-generation Dodge Charger (LF) and Dodge Challenger (LB) eMuscle cars.
Until then, we will continue to watch the NASCAR rumor mill for more upcoming and possible word of Dodge’s return to NASCAR.