Penske switches from Ford to Dodge

Oct. 13, 2002 at 8:35 PM
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CONCORD, N.C., Oct. 13 (UPI) -- After months of discussions, Penske Racing announced Sunday it will switch from Ford to Dodge for the next three years on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit.

Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman will drive Dodge Intrepids beginning at the Daytona 500 in February. That ends the team's relationship with Ford that began in 1994.

"I guess people have asked me the question, `Why would you make the move?' Obviously, it's a business to business decision," team owner Roger Penske said. "We've been under the Chrysler brands, the DCX brands now for a number of years, and we felt that business to business relationship could be extended."

In 1993, Wallace won 10 races in a Pontiac before the team switched to Ford. Penske is hoping another switch will revitalize his NASCAR team.

"I can tell you that I've been through model changes with the Pontiac to Ford and now to Dodge," Wallace said. "I've won in all the makes, except Dodge, so far. I'm real excited about that."

Penske visited victory lane five times in the early 1970s with AMC Matadors driven by Mark Donohue and Bobby Allison. Since returning to the Winston Cup series in 1991, Penske Racing South has recorded 37 wins and 32 pole positions in more than 400 races.

Dan Davis, the director of Ford Racing Technology, admitted that losing Penske Racing to Dodge is a setback.

"We heard all of the rumors about Dodge courting Penske, so it's not like this caught us off-guard or by surprise," Davis said. "I don't think there's any question that, from a financial and technical standpoint, our offer was competitive and rewarded the Penske organization for the outstanding job they've done for us since 1994."

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