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Dodge withdrawing from NASCAR after 2012 season

Dodge has formally announced its departure from NASCAR competition following the conclusion of the 2012 season. It's decision affects current involvement in both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series.

Ralph Gilles, the President and CEO of Dodge's Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, made the announcement during a media teleconference call on Tuesday.

"We've spent an intense five months working to identify and evaluate all options for our future involvement in NASCAR," Gilles said. "A number of opportunities emerged, and our team worked diligently to put a structure together to fit our overall business and competitive objectives. While we have been pleased and enthused with the amount of interest from teams and sponsors over that time, in the end, we simply couldn't develop the right structure."

Dodge's plan to withdraw from NASCAR comes after Penske Racing revealed earlier this year that it is switching to Ford at the start of the 2013 campaign. Penske, which has been with Dodge since 2003, fields two Charger cars in Sprint Cup and two Challenger cars in Nationwide.

On Monday, Roush Yates Engines announced that it will provide Ford FR9 engines to Penske beginning next year. Penske fielded Ford for its NASCAR teams from 1994-2002.

No other active teams in Sprint Cup are using Dodge.

"It's an extremely difficult decision to know that we won't be there for our fans next season," Gilles added. "It's important to note that we have not lost focus on 2012 or the commitment to our partnership with Penske Racing in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series."

Dodge has recorded 215 wins in NASCAR's premier series, including 55 since 2001, and has been represented in the Chase for the Sprint Cup in seven of the first eight seasons. In 2010, Brad Keselowski won the Nationwide championship, driving a Dodge for Penske.

"Dodge has been a great partner to NASCAR for many years, and they have been part of numerous memorable moments throughout our history," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in a statement. "They made a business decision not to return in 2013, as they did in 1977 before returning in 2001. We wish them well and hope they again will choose to return to NASCAR at a later date.

"Our fans have a passion for cars and emotional connections to particular manufacturers, and that's why in 2013 we will debut new race car designs that are modeled after each manufacturer's production cars. This change is a direct result of feedback from our fans, who are the most brand loyal in all of sports."

Dodge first pulled out of NASCAR competition in 1977 and did not return to the sport until 2001.

Chevrolet and Toyota are the other manufacturers in NASCAR.