CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) -- Finished Second "I couldn't be happier. These races are so hard to get good finishes in. So many people can affect the outcome. But the Texaco/Havoline Dodge was running well and we were able...
CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) -- Finished Second
"I couldn't be happier. These races are so hard to get good finishes in. So many people can affect the outcome. But the Texaco/Havoline Dodge was running well and we were able to hold the bottom there in the end and fend a few people off. It was a good day for us. The biggest thing is that it starts us out right in the points this year. Typically we end up having a bad first race at Daytona, and that sets us back in the points.
"It was pretty wild there at the end, I wanted to go with Newman as soon as he pulled out, the No. 38 had a big run on me and I had to block the bottom. It's just tough to figure out who to go with at the end, but congratulations to Jimmie (Johnson.) He is a big friend of mine. I just cant wait to get to California.
"This finish just feels really good. We kind of battled through the first part of the race. Our car was really tight at the beginning. Donnie made a lot of good calls and we got it freed up in the end. I got in the middle at close to the end there and got a good shove from behind which helped us move to the front. Then we were able to hold it. I have to thank Elliott (Sadler) right there at the end. H e gave me a really good shove. I thought about going with Newman, but the No. 38 had such a big run that I had to stay on the bottom."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) -- Finished Third
DESCRIBE YOUR DAY "We had a good shot at winning this race. I've got to thank all the guys on the Alltel Mobil Dodge, everybody that's been a part of Penske Racing. Unfortunately, Casey didn't decide to follow through with that. He gave me a good shove to get me out of the way but didn't go with us. We'll just have to see what happens. It was a great run for us and a good way to start the season. It's the best way we've started the season down here ever."
COMMENT ON YOUR TEAMMATE KURT BUSCH "Kurt kind of got the raw end of the stick -- I saw that in my mirror there. That's part of racing, I guess, in a way but it was unfortunate for him. It was a great run for our Alltel Dodge."
WHAT CAN THIS DO FOR YOUR SEASON? "It's a great way to start. We've never started off this strong and that's important. Just to carry on being in the top 10 in points -- you get there by starting off on the right foot. Now we'll see if it keeps working."
DESCRIBE THE MOVE AT THE END OF THE RACE "Casey gave me a heck of a shot there on the back straightaway, and I decided to go high and try to pass. He closed the door, and I couldn't get back down in time. I committed myself high and that gave Jimmie the win. It was just a matter of who was going to finish second. I don't know if we did or not -- that's beside the point -- but we had a great opportunity for a couple of Dodges to work together and they didn't. It's unfortunate we didn't get the win, but it's a great way to start."
HOW WAS IT RACING WITH KURT? "Kurt and I had a great run all day. It was just unfortunate for him. We did a heck of a job working together. It's the best two Penske cars have ever looked on a racetrack together. We're impressed with it, yeah, but wish we obviously could have done better. It was a heck of an effort by everybody at Penske Racing. The Alltel Dodge was fast all week except for qualifying, and that doesn't matter, I guess. Until they start awarding points for qualifying, then we'll figure it a little bit differently."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) -- Finished 36th
"We had a good racecar, one of the best I've had at Daytona. It's too bad we didn't get a chance to show how much we have improved our superspeedway program, getting caught up in the accident early in the race. By the time we got the damage repaired and everything sorted out, we were out of contention. The No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge was a top 10 car; we just didn't get a chance to prove it. Daytona is over. California is next. We had a good test at Las Vegas. We expect to have a good car for California."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Wells Fargo Financial Dodge Charger) -- Finished 39th
AFTER ACCIDENT COMMENT "Somebody ran over Jeff Green. That got it started. Jeff came down the racetrack, and I tried to dodge him. It was a typical race at a place like this where you're looking out the front of the windshield and somebody runs into you from behind. There's nothing they could do, either, so it's something where a bunch of innocent people get caught up in something that's not of their making and it knocked out a few of us."
POST RACE COMMENT "We had two good cars and got in two wrecks that weren't our fault. Both wrecks were caused by experienced drivers, so you can't blame a bunch of rookies. That's the way it was. I guess the spotter didn't tell him (99 car) that we were there because he just tried to shoot the gap. That wasn't the problem. The 88 car had already run over the 66 at that time. That got the 66 wrecked and everybody was checking up. That didn't have anything to do with the 99. We came here and ran good. We had a decent test at Las Vegas. This is just one race out of 36, so it ain't a big deal. You can gain a little momentum if you come out of here good, and you can lose a little momentum. Like I said, we've got so much momentum at the race shop I'm not sure we'd lose momentum after 10 races."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) -- Finished 38th
"We had a great car all day. I was so proud of my team. The Miller Lite Dodge was beautiful, working with my teammate Ryan Newman. We had a shot to win this race. Roger Penske has won the Indy race 13 times, and we were really going to do it today. We came up just a little short. Thanks to all my sponsors and all the guys that got behind us. We'll be back.
"We had the Miller Lite Dodge in position late in the race. I thought we had a shot. It's obvious. He (Jamie McMurray) is OK. He's in another wreck. Somebody else will go take care of him. It was great. You could just see it brewing. With 20 to go it was going to get busy. We were motoring. I'm so proud of our team. Our Dodges were great. It's a great way to start out. No matter where we end up in points, I think it was a great team effort. We really bounced back to have a great effort having everything new.
"We teamed up with Ryan Newman and showed strength all day. We were working together great. We just got a bump draft from behind that was a bit too rough."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger) -- Finished 35th
"Some of the guys got up into the wall and somebody came down and clipped some of us. It ended the day I guess. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we had a good race up to that point. We'll regroup and try against next week at California."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) -- Finished 11th
"The pit stops were awesome today. The car was perfect through the entire race. We didn't make any adjustments, and the engine is the best it's ever been in a restrictor-plate race. I learned a lot. There was really nobody out there that I worked the best with. I pushed some people and some people pushed me. It wasn't about too many friends out there. The bump drafting was the same as it's always been for me. The only time it gets out of control is when people do it in the corners. Other than that there's nothing wrong with it. That's just the way you race on these tracks. There was a lot of wild stuff at times, but that's just what you do here. You can't take that away. That's why the grandstands are full here. That's why Mike Helton isn't saying anything about it. He put a limit on certain spots of the track. I think we had a top 10 or top five car today. I went with the 8 at the end and he got tight off turn two. We both had to stop or run into the wall. Once that happened we probably lost about three or four spots that we probably would have easily had. We only race here twice a year. The speedways have never been an issue for Dodge. The issue is at the mile and a half tracks and that's what we're going to work on."