In a rather unexpected announcement, Penske Racing will make the switch to Ford Racing for the 2013 Sprint Cup. The two-car program will run 2013 NASCAR Fusions starting with the season-opener at the 2013 Daytona 500.
Penske Racing was first seen wearing the Ford badge in 1976 and 1977. The operation then spent nine seasons with The Blue Oval starting in 1994 until switching to Dodge in 2002. During that time, the team posted 27 wins and 33 poles among three drivers and finished in the top 10 48.6 percent of the time (228 out of 469 starts).
The Motrolix Take
NASCAR may or may not be relevant to most car enthusiasts. But if we learned anything in the last few years, it’s that the series is a very powerful marketing tool. Fox, for instance, averaged 5.0 in Nielsen ratings and 8.6 million viewers for the 13 Sprint Cup races in 2011.
Unfortunately, the series doesn’t result in a “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” scenario, as the NASCAR vehicles aren’t even remotely related to their production counterparts. Even so, the new Fusion will get some needed exposure thanks to the 2013 NASCAR season and to Penske Racing.
For its part, Dodge — which just was seemingly left on the vine — will need to scramble during the bran new 2012 season. It will most likely try to win as many races as possible in 2012 (with Penkse) and then work as fast as possible to pick up a racing partner to replace Penske; rumor has it that the brand will run a 2013 NASCAR Charger prior to the March 11 race in Las Vegas to build some buzz around the brand and nameplate. If only it were real Fusions, Chargers, and Mustangs running in the series…