Penske Racing and Ford Racing announced Thursday they will be joining forces for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and beyond. Roger Penske answered several questions about the move.
Penske: We announced today that Penske and
Ford will campaign in 2013 in NASCAR Sprint Cup. Penske Racing
will obviously race the new 2013 Fusion. We’ll also run Mustangs in
the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2013. I personally want to thank the
leadership team -- Edsel Ford, Jamie, Mark Fields, Jim Farley and
Ken Czubay for their commitment in this very important time for our
team to Penske Racing. As you know, Dodge has been aligned with
Penske Racing for the past 10 years. Together, we’ve had much success on
and off the track. Obviously, throughout the 2012 season we are
to winning races, making the Chase and hopefully winning
the championship. The timing of this announcement with Ford is
obviously very important due to the implementation of the new 2013 NASCAR
Ford Fusion, which we will compete with next year at Daytona. With only
a year to go, we needed to plan for the future and make
important commitments to our sponsors, drivers, crews and employees. As many
of you know, Penske Racing is no stranger to Ford Racing. Over the
years we’ve raced with Ford for 11 seasons with over 500 NASCAR starts.
We have 27 victories and 36 poles, so, again, I’m very excited to
Ford again in 2013."
Q: Why are you making this move? Who is going to do your engines?
Penske: From an engine perspective, if you go
back in Penske Racing’s history, I would say that all the time we’ve
been in many different motorsports, we have had our own engine company
and developed our own engines. And I think this was not part of
the agreement, from the standpoint with Ford, that we would use
Roush Yates or use other people’s engine. This is certainly something
that we’re going to evaluate going forward. We have got a great
engine company with great people. You can see what they’ve been able to
with the Dodge product, so we just want to be able to benchmark, and
I think that’s one of the reasons when we looked at the change in 2013 is
it’s going to be a difficult year for everyone as we have to change bodies on
all of our cars and if we were going to make a change, this was going to be
the year that we would do that. Obviously, our contract with Dodge ends at
the end of 2012, so when you take the contract ending, I think the chance for
us in this particular case to be able to benchmark against someone like Roush
and Roush Yates will give us a chance to be sure that we can be a leading
team in NASCAR in
the future. We’ve had a great relationship with Dodge.
We’ll continue, as I said earlier, to commit 150 percent to what we need
to do. There’s no disincentive for Penske Racing not to be the best
in 2012, and I think that at this particular time when we assessed
options, and this is something that didn’t come overnight. We had
a relationship with Ford before, and I think at the end of the day we felt
that this was an option that we couldn’t turn down.
Q: Can you say how long the deal is for? Will you use Roush Yates Engines?
is a long-term deal. We don’t really comment on length of different
agreements, but this is a multi-year agreement and we’ve obviously have
multi-year agreements with Ford and Dodge in the past, so it’s consistent
with what we’ve done in the
recent deals that we’ve had. From an engine
perspective, we have a commitment to our people at the engine shop. We’ve
got a big investment in dynos and other things, so this is something that
we’ll take a good look at, but what I like about it is we’ll be able
to benchmark our capabilities at Penske Engines versus the best in
the business at Roush Yates.
Q: Why is this a better deal than Dodge?
Penske: Let me say this,
this wasn’t about money and I want to make that clear from the standpoint of
everybody that’s on the call. I think that we evaluated, when you look at the
strength of the teams in NASCAR – the multiple car teams – the success that
Stewart-Haas had and the alignment with Hendrick. Also with Gibbs and
Waltrip and the teams that were out there. We’ve been operating for the last
10 years pretty much with some support in the previous years, maybe four
or five years ago, but we needed to have a benchmark and I think
that having that additional technical information flow through the
process as Ford has outlined it to us, I think, was very important to us.
The term was important to us. We wanted a long-term deal because I
have to make commitments to sponsors. Obviously with drivers today
you can’t just hire a driver at the last minute, so I think some of
those things came into play. We want to thank Dodge for what they’ve
done for us. I think we’ve delivered and they’ve delivered, and we’ve
got a big job to do ahead of time, but this was a business decision.
We had a long, important relationship with Ford in the logistics
and dealership area, and all of these things carry some weight in
our final decision.
Q: How tough is it to leave Dodge and did you look at joining Chevrolet?
Penske: This was a very tough decision and
I think we had discussions with Dodge. This wasn’t something
that happened in the last 24 or 48 hours. It was over a few months and
think when we weighed the plusses and minuses of the opportunity, it was
apparent to us that we need to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and we
have been trying to do it alone. I think with a certain amount of
sponsorship available to us and we were fielding
two, three cars and then
some in the Nationwide, but having the opportunity to benchmark with someone
like Roush, who has been world-class, you could see the performance this past
weekend with Kenseth and how good their cars are, we thought that it was the
for us to evaluate other options. Chevrolet, obviously, when you
look at that lineup, we’d have a hard time getting in that line with
the teams that are already associated with Chevrolet, and I felt that
the relationship in Detroit that we had with Ford, Chrysler and Dodge
is very important to us, but at the end of the day, we had very
good conversations with Ralph Gilles and Beth Paretta and the SRT brand
is very important. In fact, the good news is that if you saw
the activation at Daytona, they’re fully committed and I know they’ll
move out on the racing circuits, not only just in NASCAR, but in
other areas as we go forward. So it was a tough decision for me, but,
on the other hand, I think it’s the right one.
Q: Does this deal require a certain number of Cup cars and Nationwide series cars?
Penske: We have committed to run
a minimum of two cars in the Cup Series and we’ll be running two cars in
Nationwide. At some point, once we have been able to stabilize from the
standpoint of the changeover, we could move one of those Nationwide cars to
run in the
Cup Series. So I think we have a very viable plan with Ford, one
that has some elasticity so we can change from two to three and,
obviously, we’ve been able to build a lot of good people through the
Nationwide programs when you look at Paul Wolfe and Chad Walter and
certainly Todd Gordon are the people that we have today that have come
through that wing, and we expect to continue that, so you’ll see
us performing and running in both series.
Q: Is there a disincentive in performance for Dodge given they are now in a lameduck situation as far as developing their 2013 car?
got a committed group of guys there and I know for a fact in having
several conversations with key management around this discussion that both
of us said we are going to do our utmost to perform, not only for
the Penske Racing team, but for the Dodge brand and certainly SRT
as they’re growing that brand throughout the world. I think that
they have an option now to look at the different teams and other areas
that they can invest in motorsports. They’re fully committed and I
think this might incent them even more to do more. They’ve done a lot
with us on the 2013. This wasn’t just thrown over the wall to us.
They’ve been involved and I’m sure they have the ability to carry it on to
get it to be competitive for whatever team they might choose in
the future. Obviously, when you look at the Challenger, we developed
that vehicle together with Dodge and you’ve seen the success with Brad
and the way Sam ran this past weekend, so there are some good bones
that they have to work with. Certainly, we’re going to live up to
our obligations on our contract with them throughout 2012.