Dodge opened Tuesday with hints it was set to withdraw from NASCAR for 2013. Later Tuesday, Dodge officials confirmed the pullout effective at the end of the year.
"Following our thorough five month process weighing all options in the sport, we have decided to withdraw from NASCAR racing," SRT Motorsports and CEO Ralph Gilles said in an opening statement during a 2:30 p.m. ET news conference. "You have no idea how much we feel the pain."
The manufacturer was left without a major team when Roger Penske's organization announced at the start of the year it would switch from Dodges to Fords in 2013, and on Monday it was confirmed Penske - which currently builds its own Dodge engines - would instead have Roush Yates-built Ford engines.
The story was additionally reported by Autoextremist's Peter De Lorenzo late Sunday night, then picked up late Monday and into Tuesday by further outlets, including NASCAR's website Tuesday morning. Dodge already pulled out of this week's two-day tire test of 2013 cars at Martinsville Speedway.
Gilles said the "committee-level" decision was taken only last Friday, after it was unable to put together the structure it thought necessary to reach its goals. He denied financial reasons played in the company's decision.
"Following the announcement of Penske Racing in March 12, we set up a detailed evaluation process to determine who our perspective new partners could be and specifically what the future would hold for us on and off the racetrack," Gilles said.
"We were initially pleased to see the vast amount of interest from teams and sponsors that came our way with a lot of interesting packages and ideas. We couldn't unfortunately put together a structure that made sense to continue our business and competitive objectives for next year.
"This decision was not based on budgets, even though we have diversified in many sports this year, this was really a NASCAR-centric discussion and the case of the different pieces of the puzzle not fitting together to satisfy the structure we needed to fit our overall business and competitive objectives."
This year Dodge has won three Sprint Cup races with Brad Keselowski, currently one of the leading entries into this year's Chase, while he has also notched up three victories in the Nationwide Series where his Penske team-mate Sam Hornish Jr is a title contender.
Gilles said Dodge remains committed to finishing its association with Penske Racing on a high at the end of the year.
"We're committed to and focused on the 2012 season with Mr. Penske and we're going to do anything in our power to secure hopefully a Chase win and also a championship potentially in the Nationwide Series," Gilles added.
Beyond the fact there wouldn't be a flagship team to carry the squad into 2013, Dodge's parent company Chrysler is now aligned with Fiat, whose interest in NASCAR would appear to be waning. The SRT Viper American Le Mans Series program premiered last weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which signaled a greater marketing intent there to coincide with the relaunch of the Viper road car, announced in April.
Dodge returned to NASCAR in 2001 with Ray Evernham's team after a 24-year hiatus since 1977. It scored pole at its first race back, the 2001 Daytona 500 with Bill Elliott. Dodge has won 50 races since 2001, led by Penske's 29 as an organization. It has not won a series championship in Sprint Cup, although it did win the 2010 Nationwide Series title with Brad Keselowski.