The contracts aren't all signed yet, but Roger Penske (L) will be running Roush-Yates Ford engines next season, Roush says.
By Mike Mulhern
Roger Penske has been in the news a lot lately, for Brad Keselowski's three tour victories (Bristol, Talladega and Kentucky), and for the AJ Allmendinger affair, and now for the search for a new Cup driver for 2013.
But Penske, in the five months since he announced he would be leaving Dodge at the end of the season and switching to Fords, has said virtually nothing about his Ford game plan. Brad Keselowski is in the running for this year's Sprint Cup championship, and Penske has said he is focusing on winning the championship for Dodge.
However Penske has a huge 80-man NASCAR-Dodge engine operation, whose fate has been up in the air since the March announcement. What will happen to those 80 men and their families is still up in the air.
Jack Roush says Penske has decided to run Roush-Yates Ford engines next season.
Penske has said he will not be shutting down the 80-man operation he currently has, but it would seem unlikely that Ford would care for one of its star new players to also continue building Dodge engines on the side. A possible sale of that engine shop to Dodge itself has been speculated as the only logical solution. However Chrysler-Fiat execs have steadfastly refused to discuss any aspect of their NASCAR plans, if any.
Roush: "Roger and I will cooperate on things that are in our common interests, and we will compete on things that reflect our need to be independent and justify our space on the race track.
"We've done the bulk of the work on the 2013 car; we did invite them to have a look at what we've done in concert with Ford, and made sure we had their blessing, along with the other Ford teams involved.
"The indication are -- though I don't know if the papers have been signed yet -- that he will use our engines. He does have a few things he does different with his cars and the way the engines are mounted; so we'll respect his experience and his package preference.
"Whether we wind up with the same package for all Ford cars or not is yet to be determined."
Roush, asked about the possibility of Penske becoming a business partner with Roush and Doug Yates in the engine operations, said "There is no plan on the table for Roger for any ownership in the engine program. But I stop short of saying that would never be a consideration going forward."
Goodyear's Stu Grant (L), with champion Tony Stewart, and that solid gold trophy car (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chrysler-Fiat executives have not announced any NASCAR plans for next season, no drivers or teams (with Penske leaving Dodge to field Fords) except for Robby Gordon, who has all but dropped off the NASCAR tour for financial reasons.
Dodge did unveil its 2013 at Las Vegas earlier this year. However that apparently was just a 'plastic' mock-up model, not a real race car.
So while Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford will be showing off their 2013s at Martinsville Speedway next week, Dodge will be skipping the test, for some reason.
Chevy's Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson, Toyota's Martin Truex Jr., and Ford's Carl Edwards will be the drivers testing at Martinsville.
Goodyear just tested again at Michigan International Speedway, to reconfirm its planned tire selection for the Aug. 19th 400. The tires will be the same compound and design as used in the June race, only the right-sides will have less rubber, in order to prevent excessive heat buildup (which caused the right-sides to blister in June), and left-sides will be newly built, rather than a five-year-old tire.
The 'fresher' left-sides should have a bit more grip; the right-sides should run cooler.
Denny Hamlin said Monday's testing showed tire temps 40 degrees cooler than during the June race.
Denny Hamlin: soon-to-be a father. Marriage? "I'm patient." (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)