Approximately 2,000 Dodge employees honored members of its two Daytona-winning NASCAR teams today at the DaimlerChrysler Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. Members of Bill Davis Racing, along with Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar...
Approximately 2,000 Dodge employees honored members of its two Daytona-winning NASCAR teams today at the DaimlerChrysler Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. Members of Bill Davis Racing, along with Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T, were honored as Daytona 500 champions. Also, Robert Pressley, in his first start with Bobby Hamilton Motorsports, won the Dodge Dealers 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Race at Daytona and that team was also honored Thursday.
JIM JULOW (Vice President -- Dodge Global Brand Center)
"It's already Thursday, a lot of days and a lot of hours under the belt since Sunday. I was talking to Bill Davis coming down here, and frankly, I'm not sure I get what happened over the weekend to the Dodge brand and our race program. Daytona, that's the Super Bowl of all motorsports. Two racing series and two victories at absolutely the most historical place in racing history. I couldn't be happier than to have the folks I have behind me here to celebrate the victory with you all here today.
"We kicked off our motorsports program just about a year ago with Winston Cup, and I'll bet Wolfgang (Bernhard, President and COO Chrysler Group) would echo this. It took us awhile to get our first victory. In fact, he and I used to have a few promising hallway conversations about that in the early summer. We did get that first win in August with Sterling Marlin. Then we got three more for a total of four. Along the way, we also did a pretty significant thing. We won the manufacturers championship in Craftsman truck, our first NASCAR championship in over 25 years, so that was an achievement in and among itself.
"If you missed it, NASCAR's opening ceremonies were just as big as the ones at the Olympics. They were definitely as popular. Just one example. Sunday's Daytona 500 got the highest TV rating in its history, and it was the most watched auto race in the United States since the 1984 Indianapolis 500 back when all the open wheel cars raced at the same place in the United States.
"For the Craftsman Truck Series season opener, Ted Musgrave's No. 1 Mopar sponsored Dodge set the whole tone for Friday's race as he took the pole position. At the checkered flag on Friday afternoon, Dodge had swept the top four positions led by Robert Pressley in the No. 18 Dodge entry. Robert got his first truck win in his first truck career start. If you think you've got high expectations for your job performance rating, think about him.
"On Sunday, Ward Burton put the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid out in front with five laps left and held off the car whose name is a four-letter word, ya'll know what that is, for Dodge to get its first Daytona 500 win since 1974. I won't tell you where I was in 1974 because it would show somewhat of my age, but I will tell you the guy driving that car in 1974 was Richard Petty, not Kyle. We've got these guys here today, Robert and his team owner Bobby Hamilton, Ward and his team owner Bill Davis, along with their crew chiefs and team management. We're going to bring them up to say a few words. Some of our key metropolitan dealers for the Dodge franchise are in the audience. We also have with us, Chrysler Group Executive Vice President of Product Development and Quality Rich Schaum, and of course, our chief operating officer Wolfgang Bernhard.
DR. DIETER ZETSCHE (President and CEO DaimlerChrysler Group)
"I'm sorry I couldn't be there. I've been doing quite a bit of racing around myself these days. To Robert Pressley and his crew with Bobby Hamilton Racing, and to Ward Burton and his crew with Bill Davis Racing, you guys literally made history with your tremendous victories. No one could have asked for a better start to the 2002 NASCAR season. On behalf of the entire Chrysler Group, I'd like to say how proud we are of all of you. We'd like to see you in victory lane many more times this year. Congratulations. You've shown the world what teamwork is all about."
BOBBY HAMILTON (Owner Bobby Hamilton Racing in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series)
"I look back at this race team, it's a pretty neat deal. I started this in 1999, and with the strength and motivation we have behind it from Dodge, it just makes it very special. This is two years in a row for Bobby Hamilton Racing winning the Daytona truck race. That's a pretty big deal. We've got Robert Pressley now, and we're real proud of that. You come out and the man sits in the truck the first time and wins the race, so everybody out there in those red shirts are going to be expecting things, so you've got to get after it Robert.
"One thing that makes this what it is, is this is definitely a one-team effort. We really appreciate everything everybody does. From the engineering to Ted Flack and all the motor deals. Joey Arrington and all the aero guys. Don't throw me out of the building, but I'm walking a tight rope here because I drive a Chevrolet Winston Cup car. I've been involved with every manufacturer in NASCAR racing now, and I can say this and be honest. Dodge puts out more in the racing industry than any manufacturer I've ever worked for. They make sure it's a one-team deal. I think you saw that with the truck deal. I was standing up on my spotter's stand. I was spotting for the 4 truck and Brian Rose, and he was running third. Ultra Motorsports looked at me and I said, 'it's going to take three of us. We can't do it without three.' They said they'd stay in line and the rest is history. We got Joe Ruttman to help us out. That's what it's all about, and we appreciate it.
"We've got three teams this year. We've got Bill Lester with the diversity. We also have Brian Rose, so we think it's going to help us make a run at the driver's championship and we hope we can bring that to you with the help of Ultra Motorsports. We'd like to bring back in here at the end of the year and bring you two trophies, the driver's trophy and the manufacturers championship. I think that would be pretty cool.
"I had Danny Gill when we first started this deal in '99, and I hired him back. This was his first race, too. He's the crew chief on the 18 truck."
ROBERT PRESSLEY (No. 18 Dodge Dealers Ram)
"Bobby Hamilton and I talked at Martinsville, and we talked about coming over to this program. I was pretty excited about it. I knew what kind of program Bobby had and he had always emphasized what Dodge and Chrysler were all about. He said he didn't need a driver. He needed someone to lead a team. I thought about that for awhile, and came back and told him that's what I want to do. Racing is a team effort. No one wins by themselves. Going to Daytona and winning that race was more than I ever expected. Whenever Ted Musgrave and Joe Ruttman lined up behind me, they made it possible for me to win this deal, and it was one team with four trucks out there. We ganged up on those other manufacturers and they didn't have a chance. I'm very proud to be a part of this deal."
RICH SCHAUM (Chrysler Group Executive Vice President of Product Development and Quality)
NOTE: Pressley presented Schaum with the truck winning trophy.
"This means a lot to me personally and certainly everyone from engineering and everyone from the Dodge dealers association. This particular race was sponsored by the Florida Dodge Dealers. A few years back, I had to convince a Frenchmen that we were going to go into NASCAR into the truck series. He was a strong fan of F-1 racing and he turned me down once and turned me down twice. We were selling a lot of trucks, and I told him this is what trucks are all about. He said, 'well, it's your budget.' Along with the cooperation of the Dodge Dealers and sales and marketing, we finally got it together so we can get back in racing. It's been a wonderful trip. Thanks to everyone. It means so much, and thanks to everyone for such a wonderful effort."
BILL DAVIS (Car owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"Jim referred to a leap of faith two years ago. We walked into this big building here and ran into a lot of people who had a lot of good things to say. We went back and got on the airplane and I think before we got home we knew this was what we needed to do. Thanks to everyone in this building, the engineering, marketing, everyone involved. We're racing the very best cars and the very best engines in Winston Cup Racing. We're real proud of that. We're excited about Dodge and the way they approach everything, not only the marketing but everything about the way Dodge does things. I just don't know how to describe you people. The program you have compared to the other manufacturers. There is no comparison. You absolutely have the best thing going, and we're proud to be a part of it.
"With me today from Bill Davis Racing is General Manager and also the rear tire carrier on pit stops, Mike Brown. We have our head engine builder who has done a fabulous job for us for years now, Mr. Terry Elledge. Crew chief Tommy Baldwin and the Daytona 500 champion Ward Burton.
"Being able to get a win in Dodge's first year back in the sport is such at such a prestigious race like the Southern 500 at Darlington was a tremendous accomplishment. I didn't think it could get any better than winning the Southern 500, but man, the Daytona 500. You all won the Daytona 500. With that, from everybody at Bill Davis Racing, I'm very proud to present the owners trophy to Mr. Wolfgang Bernhard."
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"When we first came down here to get introduced to Dodge a couple of years ago, I missed the plane. I had some other things I needed to take care of. When I got back to the race shop, the excitement that was coming from these guys that were here was unbelievable. As I got to know the people, the engineering staff and Ted Flack and his boys, man, I was pumped up. To start this deal from nothing and to end up this year being the Daytona 500 champion is an unbelievable experience for us. It was an incredible effort. We couldn't have done any of this without you people in this building, and I appreciate all the help you've given to Bill Davis Racing. It's my pleasure to present the crew chief award for winning the Daytona 500 to Mr. Wolfgang Bernhard."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"Like everybody here has said, there's no manufacturer out there that does what ya'll do for our race teams, and that's why we're sitting here today with Robert Pressley's Trophy and Bill Davis' Trophy for kicking butt this past weekend. We appreciate ya'lls support."