What does the Penske organization have to say about 2010? Read the notes and quotes from the Charlotte Media Tour below.
Will Cup Teams Have to Dodge Penske?
Penske Racing will be the only Dodge team for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, but team officials and Dodge officials reaffirmed their commitment to each other during Monday night’s dinner session.
“This is our eighth season with Dodge, and I have never seen this level of commitment from Dodge and the enthusiasm of the entire Dodge team,” said Walt Czarnecki, executive vice president, Penske Corporation. “We believe in Dodge and we believe in their success. Together, we’re going to achieve that success on the race track and in the showrooms.”
Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of Dodge Car Brand, said the manufacturer went through a short period before deciding to remain in NASCAR.
“It’s been an interesting year for us, obviously,” said Gilles.
“It’s been a big year for introspection. We had a lot of decisions we had to make as we went through the summer last year and kind of rebuilding our company from the inside out. NASCAR was one of those decisions we had to make. It was a very short one. We decided to absolutely be committed.”
Dodge went to one team, Penske, though it will increase its commitment to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, including the addition of a second full-time team. Gilles said Dodge likes the NASCAR Nationwide Series and likes the series’ new model car, the Challenger.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Gilles said of the car that will run four races in the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. Gilles said Dodge will continue to support NASCAR in a “big, big way.”
“I want to really weave our NASCAR effort into what Dodge is going to be all about,” Gilles said.
And Penske will be a big part of Dodge’s overall effort, Penske Racing owner Roger Penske said. “I think we have a competitive advantage,” Penske said. “The fact that all the resources, both technical and from a marketing standpoint, are supporting our drivers and our other sponsors, we have that benefit with Dodge.Believe me, this is just not putting your name on the side of a car or having your decal as a Dodge running around the race track. This is about selling cars, about selling product.”
Kurt Busch on Steve Addington as Crew Chief
In 2010 Kurt Busch, the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing, will have a new crew chief sitting on top the pit box. Steve Addington, who was with Joe Gibbs Racing as Kyle Busch’s crew chief in 2009, will be leading the Miller Lite team during the upcoming season.
Kurt Busch was with his family, including his brother, getting a picture taken for their Christmas cards when Kyle received a phone call.
“I went ‘what just happened?’ Cause he hung up the phone in a weird manor and kind of was mumbling around and kicking the grass,” said Kurt. “He said, ‘Well Steve’s not going to be my crew chief anymore.'”
Once Kurt heard this news, he didn’t waste time starting his efforts to have Addington be his crew chief.
“I said, ‘Well give me his phone number,'” stated Kurt. “I mean that’s how fast I said it because I knew Pat was leaving us months ago. And he said, ‘Well your smart enough, you can find his number on your own.’
“He wouldn’t give it to me. He was still a bit distorted on what had just happened. He’s always tough like that.”
Kurt saw the experience that Addington had and that’s why he wanted to work with him.
“The credentials he brings was the deciding factor. We looked at a guy internally; I was ready to go with him. But somebody of his caliber and status made me think and reevaluate where we needed to go.”
Ruby Tuesday to Sponsor Keselowski’s Nationwide Ride
Mark Young, Ruby Tuesday senior vice president and chief marketing officer, helped announce that the restaurant chain will sponsor Brad Keselowski’s No. 22 Dodge in six NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2010. It marks the first time Ruby Tuesday has entered the NASCAR ranks.
“We’re excited about what we’re doing with our brand,” said Young.
“This is a way for us to really extend it. Ruby Tuesday, the last couple of years, has been struggling. We all know that, we’ve all been there. But we rebranded our concept two years ago, and we’re in the process of trying to reach different audiences. The NASCAR fan base, the complete engagement that they’ve got, the loyalty to the sport itself, the ownership of Penske Racing and the drivers, it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Penske also announced that Magellan, maker of consumer GPS devices, will be an associate sponsor on its three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars.
Penske to Support Parker Kligerman
Penske Racing development driver Parker Kligerman will drive Eddie Smith’s No. 42 NASCAR Nationwide Series Dodge for the first five races of 2010, with the possibility of doing more, the team said. Kligerman, who won the pole in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Kansas Speedway last year, said he could run the four races in the series’ new car, too.
Kligerman said Chris Carrier will be the crew chief and the team will run Penske engines. But Smith, who purchased Dodges from Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of the 2008 season, will provide the cars.
Penske’s association with Smith’s team came after Kligerman hit the wall during qualifying for last year’s season finale at Homestead and failed to qualify in a Penske Racing car. Smith came to Penske and offered his Dodge for Kligerman, who then ran the race in the No. 42.