Dodge teams hope to earn the first

NASCAR Nextel Cup in 2004



As Dodge enters its fourth season back in NASCAR Cup Series competition since returning in 2001, the manufacturer is thirsty for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.  John Fernandez, Director ¿ Dodge Motorsports Operations, says Dodge has the right lineup of teams and drivers to quench that thirst in 2004 and bring home a NASCAR title.


¿We don¿t go out there to do anything else,¿ Fernandez said.  ¿Motorsports is not just a marketing program for Dodge.  It¿s part of the Dodge DNA.  Whether we¿re racing in the high-profile series like NASCAR Nextel Cup or Craftsman Trucks or at the grassroots level in NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series, we¿re there to win races and championships.¿


Evernham Motorsports, with veteran Jeremy Mayfield, rookie Kasey Kahne and senior statesman Bill Elliott running select races, is a team that gained a lot of momentum at the end of 2003, and Mayfield says that momentum can help carry the organization to new heights this year.


¿We came together and started gelling,¿ Mayfield said.  ¿If you¿ve been there and feel it come together and you know it, it¿s something you can¿t make happen.  Kasey probably already knows what I¿m talking about.  Both teams are working together better than they ever have. It takes awhile to get that trust in each other.  That¿s what we have now.¿


Kyle Petty and Jeff Green will lead the effort at Petty Enterprises.  Petty begins his 25th year of Cup Series racing in 2004 and will continue his duties as driver, owner and CEO of Petty Enterprises.  Green will return to the famed No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge after making eight starts in the car at the end of 2003. 


The three-car team of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates welcomes back Sterling Marlin, Casey Mears and 2003 NASCAR Rookie of the Year¿ Jamie McMurray.  The Ganassi teams are notorious for their ability to work together to share success on the racetrack they expect that strategy to pay even bigger dividends in 2004.


Penske Racing South rounds out the Dodge lineup with veteran Rusty Wallace joined by ¿2003 Driver of the Year¿ Ryan Newman and Nextel Cup rookie Brendan Gaughan.  Newman¿s eight wins and 11 poles were the most of any driver last season, but his success hasn¿t made him lose sight of his 2004 goals.

¿If you do win a few races, you¿re more in tune with what you¿re going to do to win the next one,¿ Newman said. ¿For me, I was always focused on what we had to do to win the next one.  With that in mind, you don¿t spend a lot of time gloating about what you have done.  You think about what you can do next time.¿


¿We¿ve got a good mix of veterans, rookies and some drivers right in the middle,¿ Fernandez said.  ¿I think the Dodge program has gotten stronger every year since we came back in 2001.  We¿re here to win races and championships.  It¿d be really nice to have a Dodge team win the first NASCAR Nextel Cup title.¿