Dodge unveils 2002 race truck

PHOENIX (October 26, 2001) - Dodge today introduced the racing version of its new 2002 model Dodge Ram 1500, which will compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and succeed the 2001 model, which earned the 2001 Manufacturers Championship for...

PHOENIX (October 26, 2001) - Dodge today introduced the racing version of its new 2002 model Dodge Ram 1500, which will compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and succeed the 2001 model, which earned the 2001 Manufacturers Championship for the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker.

The race truck's new look closely mirrors the totally redesigned 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 that went on sale last month. The new Ram features even bolder "big rig" styling, and is being featured in a national print and broadcast advertising campaign as "The New Mayor of Truckville."

NASCAR officials approved the 2002 Dodge Ram for competition on October 17, 2001.

"With 14 wins in the 2001 season, we're proud to say the Dodge Ram is kicking everybody's tailgate," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Global Brand Center. "NASCAR Winston Cup and Craftsman Truck Series are great exposure venues for Dodge. NASCAR fans are loyal and just the type of buyers we're looking for. With our winning record in both series, Dodge's performance claims are absolutely credible."

The current model of Dodge Ram that races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) originally entered competition in 1996. Since then, it has scored 28 wins, and its first Manufacturers Championship in 2001. Dodge last captured a NASCAR Manufacturers title in 1975, when Richard Petty also took home the Winston Cup championship.

"The Dodge NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program has grown stronger each year we've been involved," said Ray Richard, Dodge NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Program Manager. "Unlike our NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors, Dodge never had a Winston Cup engineering group to learn from. So we created the one-team approach to pool the talents and learnings from all of our teams to raise the performance of the program overall. This approach became the model by which Dodge created its new Winston Cup program, and with three wins in its return year, it's clearly proving its value."

Although the new Dodge Ram NCTS race truck is not street legal, it carries the unmistakable "get out of my way" styling of the 2002 Ram 1500 that can be purchased at Dodge dealers nationwide. Whether in a crowded parking lot or a rear-view mirror, there's no mistaking a Dodge Ram. Its massive horse collar grille, reminiscent of classic over the road haulers, is the first thing that sets it apart from the others.

For 2002, the image in the rear-view mirror grows with an even larger and bolder grille. While each model in the consumer version of the Dodge Ram gets its own unique interpretation of Ram's signature design element, NASCAR drivers will use only the SLT model's chrome grille with honeycomb center.

The bolder grille is supported by an equally bold hood and fender combination. The hood features a more pronounced crown effect that slopes to the robust front fenders. The rear fenders provide a strong-shouldered look from the side and behind. Even the new Ram badge on the side and rear follow the sculpted shape of the truck.

"We call the front bumper the 'chrome horn'," said Dodge veteran Joe Ruttman, driver of the No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dana Dodge. "I'd say with that new grille we're going to have next year, that horn just got a whole lot louder."

Only a small player in the full-size pickup segment eight years ago, the 1994 Ram launched Dodge as a major force in the market. After averaging about 70,000 sales a year prior to its introduction, sales skyrocketed to over 200,000 in 1994. With the addition of the Club Cab and heavy-duty models a year later, annual sales almost doubled to nearly 400,000 units. Since then, Ram has averaged about 350,000 units a year, making it the company's top-selling product and one of the industry's biggest sellers.

The new Mayor of Truckville offers consumers a choice of all-new engines, transmissions, suspensions and interior appointments.

-Dodge Motorsports-

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Series Automotive , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Richard Petty