The surprise announcement leaves Chrysler without a top team for next year.
A shocking earthquake is devastating NASCAR after Roger Penske announced his decision to switch Penske Racing cars at the NASCAR premier championship from Chrysler to Ford. Penske explained his decision by his desire to improve his team's chances of winning the elusive Sprint Cup title; the switch will be made for the 2013 season. Penske is probably the oldest and most successful team owner in US motorsport, until it comes to the most important motorsport arena in the US.
His team has won numerous IndyCar championships and clinched more victories at the Indy 500 than any other team. However, it's been 40 years since his the team debuted at NASCAR, and it has never won a Sprint Cup title, winning 'only' 68 races out of hundreds of starts (of those 40 years the team didn't race in NASCAR for 11 consecutive years). Penske has been contracted to Chrysler since 2003 and was the only team to work regularly with Detroit's third largest automaker. That prevented the racing team from advantages emanating from co-operation with other teams who are racing for the same brand and using the same equipment.
"When we weighted the plusses and minuses of the opportunity, it was apparent to us that we need to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship," Penske said. "We have been trying to do it alone...But having the opportunity to benchmark with someone like Roush, who's been world-class, you could see the performance this past weekend with [Matt] Kenseth and how good their cars are. We thought it was time for us to evaluate other options." Ford cars have won the last two Daytona 500 races, the latest of them being last Monday.
"This was a milestone opportunity, given what Roger has accomplished over decades in motorsports," said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. "He's a captain of industry; he's a member of the community. Given our past relationship with him, his standard of excellence - all those forces came into play. With the alignment happening with the contractual agreements and the arrival of 2013, you put all those planets, and they all align at a single moment in time, and you have in front of you this opportunity that we are very thrilled about." Chrysler, expected to unveil their 2013 Challenger in the next few days, will now have to seek a new team to run their car.