Report: Don’t expect a Dodge return to NASCAR – for now

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Dodge made its way out of NASCAR following the 2012 season but did so in grand fashion with a Sprint Cup championship thanks to Brad Keselowski (pictured) and Team Penske.

But don’t expect the brand to return to stock car racing – at least for now.

Ralph Gilles, president and CEO for Chrysler Group’s SRT category (whose Vipers are competing in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona), has left the door open but told FoxSports.com’s Lee Spencer that such a return would have to wait a little bit, citing the need to find solid partners.

“We’re never going to have the wherewithal to scoop everybody up,” Gilles said to Spencer. “We’re not big enough to have a stronghold, so it’s always been an issue of having the right team.

“When we were [with] Penske and before that Evernham [Motorsports], the moons were aligned back then. Things made sense – the right people in the right places. Today, it’s not quite the same.”

Last December during NASCAR Champions Week celebrations in Las Vegas, CEO Brian France said that there was room for more manufacturers in the series, even though he also noted the difficulties of potential manufacturers landing strong teams.

And through the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, NASCAR does has the opportunity to forge and retain links with groups such as Chrysler, which owns both the Dodge and SRT brands.

“We didn’t get into sports car racing just to be in sports car racing,” France said in Vegas. “We got in it because it gave us some strategic relationships, namely relationships with OEMs around the world, and those are going to prove to be beneficial as they see how NASCAR works in the road racing series that they participate in now, and I think they’ll like the way we handle competition and manufacturers and so on.”

With all of that taken into consideration, Dodge does have an avenue to return to America’s most popular form of motorsport. But it appears they’ll wait until they’re good and ready for that.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”