It looks like dealership lots aren't the only places where the 2014 Dodge Dart will be replacing its Avenger brand-mate. The Dart also is going to take over for the Avenger as Dodge's go-to entry in the National Hot Rod Association's Pro Stock Class, starting with the NHRA Gatornationals near Gainesville, Fla. Actually, two Dart dragsters will make their debut, with a pair of past driving champions behind the wheels: Allen Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock champ in an Avenger, will race one of the Darts, while the other will be helmed by Jeg Coughlin Jr., who drove his own Avenger to the Pro Stock driver's title just last year.
In fact, the Avenger has been a very successful NHRA competitor for a number of years now, boasting 27 national titles and qualifying No. 1 in its class for a record 28 events.
And while it won’t be easy for the 2014 Dodge Dart to equal those numbers, it will have plenty of help from a familiar face. Mopar, the Chrysler Group's service, parts and customer-care brand, naturally will move its sponsorship to the new Dart program. According to Mopar's president and CEO Pietro Gorlier: “We are very excited to launch the Dodge Dart, and along with our Mopar fans, to see what Allen and Jeg can accomplish with this new vehicle as they vie for a third championship in the high-performance and ultra-competitive Pro Stock division. The new Dart is a testament of how Mopar uses the motorsports program as a technological proving ground with Chrysler’s own leading-edge technology and production processes. We have great expectations for its on-track success."
Of course, they have to be hoping that that on-track success spills over to dealerships, too. The 2014 Dodge Dart has seen it share of sales struggles so far this year, although it has begun to snap up some third-party quality awards in recent months. Connect World magazine named Dodge's new compact the "2014 Connected Car of the Year" in January, while February and March were highlighted by a "Most Loved" honor from Strategic Vision and a "Best Bet" prize from The Car Book, respectively.
A couple of final notes: Mopar is working to complete a third 2014 Dodge Dart Pro Stock dragster for driver Vieri Gaines, who will begin racing it as soon as it’s ready. Also, technically speaking, Johnson's car will be sponsored by "Magnetti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar" as part of Fiat-Chrysler's plan to integrate its aftercare brands.