The signs were there, but no one talked about it.  But finally, Dodge executives had to make a choice.  Despite revealing a new race car for 2013, it appeared no one was on board to drive it.

Now, it becomes official.

Dodge will no longer field any cars in NASCAR after this season.  The manufacturer that only fielded one full-time organization for the last two seasons lost it's backing earlier in the year when Penske Racing it was switching to Ford.  It's only other team, fielded by Robby Gordon, runs just a part-time schedule.

The manufacturer returned to NASCAR in 2001 after being absent for nearly a quarter century, and the hype about the return was huge.

Led by former crew chief Ray Evernham, the first two drivers to sign on to drive were Casey Atwood and Bill Elliott.  Soon others followed, including Petty Enterprises, who originally raced with Chrysler and Dodge in the 1970s.  Bill Davis Racing and Ganassi Racing soon followed.

Dodge's first win since returning to NASCAR came that season with Sterling Marlin, who won a rain-shortened event at Michigan.  The closest the manufacturer came to winning a championship was the following season as Marlin led the points for a majority of the season.  However a wreck at Kansas injured Marlin's neck, and he was forced to sit out the remainder of the season.

The manufacturer has won 50 races since it's return, with Penske Racing holding the most wins with 29.  Dodge has won two Daytona 500's in that time, first by Ward Burton in 2002 and then Ryan Newman in 2008.

However, the manufacturer has seen less backing in recent seasons.  When Petty Enterprises combined with Evernham Motorsports to form Richard Petty Motorsports, the team fielded Dodges in 2009, but switched to Ford the following season.

Penske has remained with Dodge the longest, but the last two seasons have seen some changes with the parting of Kurt Busch last year and A.J. Allmendinger midway through this season.

Ganassi fielded Dodge up through 2008, but the following season combined efforts with Dale Earnhardt Inc. to form Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, and switched to Chevrolet.

A formal announcement is expected later today of the manufacturer's departure from the sport.