Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR
2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, drives down Las Vegas during the NASCAR Victory Lap on the Las Vegas Strip on November 29, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since 1949, NASCAR has always had many manufacturers fighting for wins. Here are four companies who could and should enter the sport.
Since Dodge left NASCAR after 2012, the sport has had just three manufacturers: Chevy, Ford, and Toyota. Since its first season, NASCAR has tried to mimic the cars you’d see on a highway. There once was a time when every American car company fielded a team on Sundays.
Recently, rumors have swirled about other organizations entering the sport. However, so far none of these whisperings have come to fruition. As Toyota learned when they joined the sport in 2007 NASCAR is a huge time and financial investment. While this can scare many manufacturers away, entering the sport can pay huge dividends. Here, I look at four major manufacturers which should consider joining the ranks of NASCAR
Jan 9, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Nissan revealed the Vmotion 2.0 concept during the 2017 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. Mandatory Credit: Romain Blanquart/Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORK
Entering NASCAR would be a logical choice for the Japanese company. The group is one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, and it sells around 1.5 million cars a year in the US. It has multiple manufacturing plants in the states and has grown its sales year-over-year. Joining NASCAR and competing against Ford, Chevy, and Japanese rival Toyota would be a surefire way to boost Nissan’s brand and further grow its sales.
In particular, racing the Camping World Truck Series would provide much needed exposure for the Nissan Titan. Despite Nissan’s efforts to promote the brand, the truck’s sales have lagged badly behind Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and Ram. Nissan would likely race the Titan in the truck series and the Altima or Maxima in the XFINITY and Cup circuits. The manufacturer’s entry into NASCAR would be an incredible boost for its sales.
Jan 8, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas R-Line is released during the North American International Auto Show at the Garden Theater. Mandatory credit: Elaine Cromie/Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORK
European manufacturers have been in NASCAR for longer than casual fans would expect. Al Keller won NASCAR’s first road course race back in 1954, driving an imported Jaguar XK120. Imports continued to make one-off appearances in NASCAR for a while, but there has never been a full-time European manufacturer involved in the sport.
Volkswagen would be a logical choice to pave the way. There have been rumors about the German group joining the sport for a while. Recently, talk swirled about Volkswagen subsidiary Audi fielding cars in 2020. Though these rumors were shutdown by the company, it should still consider entering the sport. Volkswagen could use some good PR after Dieselgate, the company’s fuel emissions scandal, grabbed headlines in 2016. Entering NASCAR, likely with its flagship Passat sedan, would go a long way towards putting that scandal in Volkswagen’s rear-view mirror.
Jan 8, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; The 2018 GMC Terrain Denali was revealed during the 2017 North American International Auto Show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Mandatory credit: Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORK
General Motors already has a strong presence in NASCAR; Chevrolet has been the most successful brand in NASCAR history. However, GM used to have a strong tradition of supporting multiple manufacturers in NASCAR; Oldsmobile’s raced alongside Chevy’s until 1994, while Pontiac’s soldiered on until 2004. General Motors, which survived a chapter 11 bankruptcy to remain one of the world’s largest manufacturers, could reintroduce its three other American lines to the sport. Buick would be a logical choice to reintroduce to the Monster Energy Cup Series. Buick and Chevy would share chassis, engines, and R&D, so GM wouldn’t have to funnel money into the program. The same benefits would come from adding the GMC Sierra to the truck series–limited startup costs and lots of exposure for GM’s other brands.
Jan 9, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Jim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler car brands accepts the award for utility vehicle of the year for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric car, Honda Ridgeline pickup and Chrysler Pacifica minivan were named North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the year at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. Mandatory credit: Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORK
Dodge has already announced that they’re looking into a return to NASCAR. Despite designing a Gen-6 car, Dodge stepped away from the sport after Brad Keselowski’s 2012 championship. The American automaker pulled its support, unable to find a flagship team to replace the departing Penske Racing. However, with Ray Evernham welcoming Dodge’s return to the sport, there is a potential avenue for Dodge to re-enter NASCAR once again.
Evernham could bring Dodge back to life, as he did 16 years ago, or the group could go a different direction entirely. The company would not have to start from scratch as they did in 2001–they already have engine technology from the Car of Tomorrow, as well as a Gen-6 chassis. With once-proud outfits such as Roush Fenway losing support from their manufacturers, Dodge could easily field two or three teams if they choose to re-enter the sport. With sponsorship dollars drying up for many teams, a new manufacturer with new funding would quickly draw interest. Dodge is an American icon–it’s only right for it to race in America’s most iconic motorsport.
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