After a decade back in the saddle, Dodge leaves NASCAR

NASCAR fans and Dodge enthusiasts across the country let out a collective sigh of mourning when rumors were confirmed yesterday that the Dodge label would be exiting the racing circuit starting with the 2013 season.

The move was somewhat unexpected, as just last March the brand unveiled its NASCAR Charger in anticipation of future participation in the stock-car league. However, the writing was on the wall in recent months after Penske made headlines when the team announced earlier in the season that they would be dropping the Dodge label in favor of Ford.

Now, the holy trinity of big three American automakers have yet again been disbanded on the NASCAR circuit, with Chevy and Ford being the only domestic brands still in competition as Toyota, the Japanese label, continues to show an increased presence on the tracks. In the past, stock-cars from numerous American labels could be seen at the races, including such now defunct brands as Plymouth, Mercury and Pontiac.

This isn't the first time Dodge has been absent from the NASCAR circuit, as the label made its first exit from the league in 1977. Before that, Dodge enjoyed 37 years of storied successes and acclaim as the brand of choice for big-name drivers like Richard Petty. This isn't the first time Dodge has been burned by Ford, however, as Petty himself gave Dodge the boot in 1969 when he had no MOPAR models in his stable, choosing a Torino Talladega to race that season.

Fans had to wait more than 20 years after Dodge's initial departure before they'd see the nameplate on the tracks again in 2002. Let's hope NASCAR enthusiasts won't have to wait as long this time around to see the brand back on the speedways.