Daytona 500: Winning team press conference, part 1

An interview with: RYAN NEWMAN ROGER PENSKE ROY McCAULEY KERRY THARP: Ryan Newman will be joining us momentarily. But we're pleased to be joined by team owner Roger Penske and crew chief Roy McCauley. Congratulations on winning the 50th ...

An interview with:

KERRY THARP: Ryan Newman will be joining us momentarily. But we're pleased to be joined by team owner Roger Penske and crew chief Roy McCauley. Congratulations on winning the 50th running of the Daytona 500.

I'll ask you, Roger, your thoughts about this victory tonight.

ROGER PENSKE: I can say I've been here almost probably 30 years trying to get in Victory Circle. To achieve this with this competition, with Ryan, the student really of the sport, and Roy and the whole team, just been unbelievable.

You know, we've worked hard; we've come close.  I think it was a pure team
effort.  When you saw the end there, you saw the 18 lined up with the 20,
and you two the 2 lined up with the 12.  I think that's what it took.

To me, you know, Ryan drove a masterful race, as he's done many times and come up short. But today was special for us. You know, as I said, Rick Hendrick is a guy I always look up to. He called me today, because I called him to say what a great job they'd done all week, what he had done with Junior.

I said, Look, if I get in that winner's circle, I want one of those H hats. He brought one down to me. Maybe that's the good luck call I had when I talked to him earlier.

Ryan, you did a helluva job for us, and thanks for the team and for all the people that support us. All our 40,000 employees are going to be high fiving you for sure.

KERRY THARP: Let's hear from Roy. Your thoughts? What did you see from up top pit box tonight?

ROY McCAULEY: I'll tell you what, it was a race of durability when it comes to the tires and things like that. Ryan drove a masterful race as far as when he had the car, he could run in the first five.

When he didn't have the car, he'd find a slot somewhere between 6th and 10th and mind his time until we could get it right. I think that's the mark of being a smart driver and using your car when you can.

I'll echo Roger's comments about total team effort. I think it's a big day for Penske Racing altogether because I worked with Pat Tryson and Chris Carrier the whole day on the radio as to what would benefit the team as a whole.

As far as pit strategy goes, obviously once we could stop at lap 160 and make it on fuel, it was just going to be a matter of if another caution come out, where you going to put tires on. I'm not going to kid you, we had some second thoughts here and there.

But I felt the track position was better overall trying to stay out of the accidents which normally come at the end of a plate race. They usually come in droves the last 20 laps. Thankfully history repeated itself on that one.

You know, like I said, Ryan drove a great race. The car was a handful at the end. Thanks to our teammates and the team as a whole, we were able to pull one off.

KERRY THARP: Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, how does it feel to win the 50th running of the Daytona 500?

RYAN NEWMAN: Don't have the words. It's awesome. It's probably one of the most awesome things that's ever happened to me. To understand all the history of NASCAR, of racing in general, you know, the drivers meeting, to be looking face to face with all the guys, the greats that were on stage up there, and now to be part of one of those guys and part of that team, it's just awesome.

I've always said that Indianapolis was great to be able to walk in the garage area and know that you're touching the same footprints as other guys that were such great drivers for the last hundred years there. Just to be part of the 50th running of the Daytona 500, you know, 15 years ago I was sitting in the grandstands in the Seagrave Tower. It's awesome to make the changes.

Got to thank Roger Penske, Don Miller, everybody at Penske Racing, Roy McCauley obviously. But obviously Kurt Busch. Without a doubt, he could have easily gone three wide and split us through the center and made one heck of a mess there going into three, but he chose to be a teammate. That's the most honorable thing that he could do. I would have done the same thing to him.

Just thank him a bunch. Thank our Penske/Jasper engine group for the great horsepower. I felt at times we had a really good car. I felt at times we were struggling. To be coming out on top, as Roy said, with maybe not the best tires or the best situation, but to have the track position was a great effort.

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for our championship team.

Q: Ryan, can you walk us through the last lap? What were you thinking was going to happen? How did it go?

RYAN NEWMAN: You honestly don't know. I mean, I would say for sure the leader was a sitting duck on every restart. I didn't think the 31 had the greatest car all day. We were fortunate that when they split apart that I got the chance to push Tony. That made a difference 'cause that lane moved, it gave Kurt the opportunity to run the high line, which he wanted to.

Kind of the moons just aligned. When I pushed Tony through one and two, part of one and two, I was hoping he was going to hang on to it because I was pushing as hard as I could. We broke free. Kurt came up behind me off of two and just gave me the push from heaven.

It was awesome. Listening to my dad on the radio spotting for me, all the other things, all the other emotions, all the hard work, people that gave me a shot racing quarter midgets, midgets, Sprint cars, Silver Crown cars, I have to thank everybody, including the fans.

Q: Every sport has coaches or players who don't win the derby or the series or this or that. How important was it for you to finally win at Daytona? If you didn't win, what would that mean to your career?

ROGER PENSKE: I would have come back next year and tried again (smiling).

It was special for me. Obviously we've tried for many years. We've had great drivers. We've been very close many years. But, again, we never executed at the end, and I think this was a team effort. As Ryan said, he drove a masterful race.

But, you know, I thank Kurt, too. As Ryan said, he could have got in the middle of it. He pushed us, you know, to victory. To me that's important. It could be the other way next year or at the next race.

Awful important that we can say we have a big team, as you know, very important.

Q: Roger, can you compare this to winning an Indy 500? Also, I understand Mr. Nardelli offered a $1 million to any Dodge team that could pull off the win. What are you going to do with the money?

ROGER PENSKE: We're going to spend it to make the cars go faster, I'm sure that'll be the first thing we'll so. It was great. Bob Nardelli and I go back when I was at the Home Depot board. To see him as the CEO of Chrysler, he's really put some time and effort and give us people to make this a much better program.

But comparing it to the Indy 500, as Ryan knows, we've been open wheel guys. Coming down here has been tough. This has got to go to the top of the charts here. To see this win, what I'm going to try to do this year, have them back to back, have one in May, too. That's my real challenge right now.

Q: Roy, obviously you had one of the toughest years of your life last year with your wife being sick, having to step away from the team. Can you talk from an emotional standpoint to go from the lows of last year to the highs of this year, what this all means to you?

ROY McCAULEY: Well, you know, I'll echo Ryan's words: I don't think I have the words for what the last year has been. Exactly a year ago today actually, not to elaborate, but my wife was diagnosed with cancer. You know, I thank Roger Penske for giving me the opportunity to take care of what comes first, which is family. Without Roger, I would not have been able to do that. That just says a lot about the team as a whole again.

But to come from those extraordinary lows and go through a lot of successful medical procedures in her case to get her on the road to recovery. You know, when we sat down and talked at the end of last fall, they asked if I would be willing to take over the 12 car. We had to have a serious talk and say, Okay, we're going to beat this, and we are beating this, and we're not going to let cancer dictate the rest of our lives.

So we decided that we needed to go for it, take over the job and run the 12 and try and put Ryan in Victory Lane and Penske Racing in Victory Lane as often as we could. I give my wife a lot of credit. She's kind of my rock with wings, if you want to call it that.

It means a lot to me to come back and stand in Victory Lane with Ryan, because the last time I was his crew chief we stood in Victory Lane again. It's just an emotional rollercoaster, and it's nice to be on the top of it right now.

KERRY THARP: Thank you, Roy. We'll release you to the garage. Congratulations.

ROY McCAULEY: Thank you.

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for either Roger or Ryan.

Q: Roger, I want to hear your thoughts about Sam Hornish's performance today?

ROGER PENSKE: I would say that I was really surprised, but I was confident when we made the decision to bring him in to be our third car. I know Ryan and Kurt have worked with him a lot over the last week, the tests here, then in Vegas, then in California. But he drove a masterful race. He was working with the teammates.

I think he's gonna be a real great team player here. To finish 15th in his first race, stay out of trouble, I was amazed. I know the team was excited. Certainly you got to take a chance. We started with Ryan in what we called an ABC program, ARCA, Busch, and Cup.

We're sitting here at the Daytona 500 victory table. Hopefully we can do the same thing with Sam someday.

Q: Ryan, when you're coming off two the last lap, you see Tony go low, you must have been dumbfounded. What were you thinking right then the next two or three seconds?

RYAN NEWMAN: I know Tony was mirror driving. I was doing the same thing. Tony saw his teammate coming. Obviously you want that push. You want that push from your teammate versus anybody else. I was going to do what I had to to shuck and jibe him there to make a rundown the back straightaway.

You're right. He opened the door. The seas parted. Like I said, Kurt was the push from heaven that made it all happen. I have to thank Kurt first and foremost. But, you know, Tony was very much a sportsman. He could have made that Home Depot Dodge extremely wide, and he chose to race.

Q: Could you both comment on Roy's situation and what it means to be reunited with him, just what the last year has been like trying to support him through his tough time.

RYAN NEWMAN: I would say that Roy's situation was as tough as I think anybody could probably go through. I was really tight with Roy even when he was crew chief for Kurt in the start of '06.

I did my best to try to keep him around to be the crew chief on the Busch team in '06. He had a great opportunity to move up when Rusty left and Kurt came.

Everything came back together for us where Roy and I we have very similar backgrounds. Both of our dads used to own auto repair shops. He was born and raised in Maryland. I was born and raised in Indiana. Our lives kind of shadowed each other just with maybe a seven year delay or whatever it is, four year delay. It's really awesome. We think a lot alike. We act a lot alike. He's a great guy.

What his wife went through, you know, my wife is very close with Amy, his wife. They did a lot of things together when we did our foundation efforts with the animals. She actually owned the marketing company. We stayed in very close contact with Amy and Roy through that ordeal. Happy to say that Amy is on the mend.

Q: When you woke up this morning, what did you think your chances were of winning this race?

RYAN NEWMAN: Really good. I honestly did.

Q: Why?

RYAN NEWMAN: It happens to you no matter what you do, what sport you're in. I had people come up to me and say, Today's your day. I can feel it. I know it. And you want to say, yeah, I feel it, too. You kind of want to go with the flow.

So many things could have happened and taken us out of it.  But I felt that
we had a car that was capable of winning with the ALLTEL Dodge.  You know, I
felt that way throughout all practices.  We cut our practice short yesterday
just to be conservative.  You know, like I said, all the moons aligned.  It
happened.  It happened right.

Continued from part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Roger Penske , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske