Dodge might go out on top in the Sprint Cup Series

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The last time a Dodge driver won the Sprint Cup Series championship was in 1975 – nine years before Brad Keselowski was born.

Dodge, which is leaving the Sprint Cup Series, will win the championship if Brad Keselowski (front) finishes no worse than 15th in the season-ending race Sunday.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dodge, which is leaving the Sprint Cup Series, will win the championship if Brad Keselowski (front) finishes no worse than 15th in the season-ending race Sunday.

With the manufacturer pulling out of NASCAR after Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dodge might never win another one.

In what has become a strange twist to Keselowski’s possible championship is the fact Penske Racing will celebrate its first Sprint Cup championship by walking away from the car company that took them there.

Without Penske, Dodge decided it was better to leave NASCAR than to work with a lower-tiered team.

While the Penske organization already is working on new Fords for next year, Dodge has remained committed to leaving as a winner.

“We are going to keep all options open,” said Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of Dodge’s Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports. “It would be imprudent to try to predict the future right now.”

Dodge left after the 1977 season because the Magnum model wasn’t competitive and the car company needed to focus on strengthening sales of its passenger cars. It returned in 2001 with Ray Evernham Motorsports and it’s won 55 races since. Penske moved from Ford to Dodge in 2009 and won 14 races in the past four years.

If Keselowski finishes no worse than 15th on Sunday, part of Dodge will have its first title since Richard Petty won it in 1975.

Car owner Roger Penske announced on March 1 his organization not only was moving to Ford, but would buy engines from Roush Fenway Racing. The move stunned Dodge, since it put all of its resources in Penske’s two-car operation, which also includes the No. 22 Dodge for Sam Hornish Jr.

STANDINGS

1. B. Keselowski 2,371

2. J. Johnson 2,351

3. Kasey Kahne 2,321

4. Clint Bowyer 2,319

5. Denny Hamlin 2,309

6. Matt Kenseth 2,297

7. Greg Biffle 2,293

8. Kevin Harvick 2,285

9. Tony Stewart 2,284

10. Jeff Gordon 2,281

11. M. Truex Jr. 2,260

12. D.Earnhardt Jr. 2,211

THIS WEEK’S RACES

SPRINT CUP SERIES

WHAT: Ford EcoBoost 400

WHERE: Homestead-Miami Speedway at Homestead, Fla.

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday

BROADCAST: Television – 2 p.m. ESPN; Radio – 2 p.m. Motor Racing Network, Sirius Satellite Radio 90

2011 WINNER: Tony Stewart

TRACK SCHEDULE: Friday – practice, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN2); pole qualifying, 6:10 p.m. (SPEED); Saturday – practices, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (SPEED)

NATIONWIDE SERIES

WHAT: Ford EcoBoost 300

WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

BROADCAST: Television – 4 p.m. ESPN2; Radio – 3:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network, Sirius Satellite Radio 90

2011 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

TRACK SCHEDULE: Friday – practice, 10 a.m. and 3:10 p.m. (ESPN2); Saturday – pole qualifying, 11:35 a.m. (SPEED)

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

WHAT: Ford EcoBoost 200

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

BROADCAST: Television – SPEED, 8 p.m.; Radio – Motor Racing Network, Sirius Satellite Radio 90, 7:45 p.m.

2011 WINNER: Johnny Sauter

TRACK SCHEDULE: Today – practice, 11 a.m.; pole qualifying, 4:30 p.m. (SPEED)


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