By David Newton, NASCAR.COM
March 20, 2006
05:39 PM EST (22:39 GMT)
HAMPTON, Ga. -- The battle between the 2004 Dodge Intrepid and Charger is coming to an end, and not because Kasey Kahne won Monday's Nextel Cup race in a Charger.
Don Miller, the president of Penske Racing South, said that corporate headquarters informed his organization that the Intrepid can't be used after the April 9 Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
At least one of Penske Racing's two drivers -- Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch -- has used the Intrepid since the Daytona 500. There were plans to use the car on most 1.5- mile and 2-mile tracks the remainder of the season.
"Texas will be the last time we race them,'' Miller said of the Intrepid. "They said this is what we're advertising, so this is what we're running. That's OK. We're learning something all along the way.''
Newman, who drove an Intrepid to an 18th-place finish, still isn't sure the Charger is the solution even after Kahne's victory.
"It did get into Victory Lane, but it's hit and miss with Dodge,'' Newman said. "We proved that last year.''
The Charger has only four wins since being introduced last season. Kahne's win was the first on a 1.5-mile track where the blunt nose of the car has created aerodynamic problems.
The problems have created a split among Dodge teams that have considered going to NASCAR to ask for help. Ray Evernham, the owner of Kahne's car, said that no longer is a consideration.
"I do not know why we can't seem to agree,'' he said of the Dodge teams. "We believe in going one way. Some teams believe in going another way. Right now, I don't think we're going to go to NASCAR and ask for anything.
"We're trying to get the cars better ourselves.''
Kahne is making a good case for the Charger. He's finished fourth, fourth and first the past three weeks on tracks where the Charger has struggled.
Two other Charger drivers, Kyle Petty [eighth] and Reed Sorenson [10th], finished in the top 10 at AMS.
There's also an argument for the Intrepid. Petty's teammate, Bobby Labonte, led 13 of the first 16 laps before a blown engine left him last. But for the most part there was unity behind the Charger.
"For all the Dodge Dealers out there, maybe this will put that dreaded Intrepid thing to rest,'' Petty said. "All the Dodge teams have worked hard to get better, so maybe the Charger is the way we need to go.''
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