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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Penske move to Ford great news for his team's future; bad news for Dodge

We're only one week into the season, and the bombshell news is already starting to come.

It was announced Thursday that starting in 2013, Penske Racing will field Fords, ditching Dodge in the process.

This means that Brad Keselowski and (if he's still around) A.J. Allmendinger will be part of the Ford stable -- joining the Roush Fenway drivers (including Brad's old adversary Carl Edwards), Richard Petty Motorsports cars, and Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers rides.

And meanwhile — Dodge is left with: Pretty much nothing.

So the question now is: Will they be able to find a team to replace Penske?

Options are few, though Richard Petty Motorsports would be the most likely in my view; I don't see anyone else even considering the move.

Getting back to Penske's future, I think they have hit a home run here. In the past, they were on their own, while the Chevy and Ford and Toyota teams could rely on each other for help in getting their cars to perform better. Even under those tough circumstances, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch did pretty well last year at times.

So imagine how well Brad will do now that he's part of a bigger racing family. I think this only boosts Brad's chances at winning a title at some point in his career.

My biggest question: Where will the engines come from? Penske is no slouch in this area, but Roush's engines are very stout, too. The Captain has a big decision to make in this arena.

Overall though, while this is a surprise in one sense, on the other hand it is not. You know Roger Penske wants nothing more than to win ... he's always done that, and he'll be that way even when he's 100 years old.

"When we weighed the pluses and minuses of the opportunity, it was apparent to us that we need to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship," Penske said Thursday. "We have been trying to do it alone. Having the opportunity to benchmark with someone like Roush, who has been world-class, as you could see with their performance this past weekend with (Matt) Kenseth and how good their cars are, we thought that it was the time for us to evaluate other options."

I couldn't agree more; Roger Penske is the smartest guy in the room most places he goes, at this is a necessary move. I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner.
Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, was very happy to welcome the iconic Penske team to their lineup after a long hiatus.

“This is an historic day for Ford Racing. We are so delighted to have Roger and Penske Racing back to our NASCAR program," Allison said Thursday. "The addition of Penske Racing, along with Roush Fenway Racing, Roush Yates Engines and all the Ford teams really gives us great depth in NASCAR to reach out to our fans and to compete on the track and go after the manufacturer’s championship.”

So to sum up: Great move by Penske to go to Ford, and a even brighter future now for Brad Keselowski due to the change.

And Dodge's future? Well, even their best-case scenarios ain't all that great. I'm not sure if they'll even want to stick around.

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