(High Point, NC / February 18, 2002) There are all smiles at Bill Davis Racing and no one can hide it. Yesterday marked the biggest career victory for driver, Ward Burton, the No. 22 Caterpillar Racing team and car owners, Bill and Gail Davis, by...
(High Point, NC / February 18, 2002) There are all smiles at Bill Davis Racing and no one can hide it. Yesterday marked the biggest career victory for driver, Ward Burton, the No. 22 Caterpillar Racing team and car owners, Bill and Gail Davis, by taking home the 2002 Daytona 500 trophy.
"It's been exciting," said Burton. "To win NASCAR's biggest race is a real accomplishment for Bill Davis Racing. I just feel really thankful for the guys on the team and their families, who have sacrificed so much and worked so hard. Bill, Gail, myself and this team have come a long way since 1995. It means a lot to bring home this trophy together."
Bill Davis, car owner of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge, is overwhelmed with pride by what the team accomplished.
"It doesn't get any better than winning the Daytona 500," said Davis. "This is it. This is what we all work for. When you're a young person and you want to be a racer, and you're a real racer, you dream of not only competing at this level, that's a pretty big honor. But then to win the biggest race that we run is just amazing. I thought the Southern 500 was about as good as it could get last year, but this is just hard to describe. It is unbelievable. I'm just so happy for everybody that supports us, all the people that work at Bill Davis Racing who work so hard and dedicate themselves to it. This is just a wonderful thing."
The win is a bittersweet one. The team led 53 of the 200 laps last year in the Daytona 500, but were unable to bring home the trophy.
"Well, we had a super car here last year and probably compared to the competition, we had a stronger car here last year than we did this year," said Burton. "However luck was on our side this time. We were in the right place at the right time. Last year, we felt like that was a race that was kind of stolen from us. Not that we had it won, but we had a real legitimate shot at it until we got hit on the backstretch and that was it. Yesterday, the last 40 laps all happened in our favor."
"You try not to let yourself get too carried away in the course of a race," said Davis. "But last year, we got to thinking, `Man, we could win this race.' I couldn't have been any more disappointed in the way it ended up, after leading all those laps and thinking that we might win. So to come back this year and bring home the trophy does make you feel a lot better about the one that got away."
His and the team's accomplishment hasn't sunk in yet with Burton.
"It's going to take a while for it to hit me," said Burton. "Winning a race, even
when we won the Southern 500 last year, and that was a big race for us, it took a day or two for that feeling to sink in of gratitude and accomplishment. It is winning something that you can share with all of the people that have helped you get to where you are."
Burton is most proud to share this tremendous victory with Bill and Gail Davis.
"What makes it so fun, all of us have accomplished it together," said Burton. "We've all come from different backgrounds, but we all are like family, through the good and through the bad. We see the worst of each other and the best of each other. And that's what makes it so enjoyable for us."
This win has provided serious momentum for the team and the goals they have set forth to accomplish this year.
"We're not going to say that we're going to be the next Winston Cup champions, but we feel like if we do what we're capable of doing, we can be there at the end of the year," said Burton. "We want to get more consistent than we were last year and keep building on last year. Our goal is to get back in the top-10, hopefully top-five in points and have a shot at winning more races. But winning the Daytona 500 is the best way I can think to start a season for sure."