Roger Penske, Rusty Wallace, Ryan Newman and Jim Julow. JIM JULOW (VP, Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing) "We've won some big races, and we've done actually better than any one of us would have believed this early. We want to get better ...
Roger Penske, Rusty Wallace, Ryan Newman and Jim Julow.
JIM JULOW (VP, Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing)
"We've won some big races, and we've done actually better than any one of us would have believed this early. We want to get better and that's what today is all about. We want to improve the state of Dodge Motorsports. We want to make ourselves a force to be reckoned with. I think in a lot of respects it's also about SRT, street and racing technology. It's about being able to put what we learn on the racetrack on to the street, and it's about having SRT models that are bar done the fastest in their class. That's what racing is all about.
ROGER PENSKE (Founder and Chairman Penske Corporation)
"It's a great day for us at Penske Racing. As you know we've been in NASCAR for a long time. It goes back as some of you remember to the Matador. We were connected together many years ago. I guess people have asked me the question, 'why would you make the move?' Obviously it's a business to business. We've been under the Chrysler brands, the DCX brands now for a number of years and we felt that business to business relationship could be extended. Also, as you look at the commitment, the one team, knowing Ray, knowing Chip, knowing the Petty organization and the other folks, there was definitely a commitment to go forward. When we looked at our opportunities we evaluated aero, we evaluated the engine technology that was available to us and it certainly was the right place for us to be in the future. It's certainly a big day for us. You could go back to 1993. We'd won 10 races with Pontiac, and we made a move to Ford. We felt that elevated our team for the future, so we think this is a big step for us going forward. We're glad to be with this organization. You talk about one team. The dealers are involved, and the real reason I came is that I get my $15 a car back that they allocated to me from the dealership. That's the real reason I made this change (said in jest). I think it's important that the people know the dealers themselves support this racing program. It not only gives the real reason we're out here is the down stream end of our business and that's the dealer group supporting racing, but it also ties together with the manufacturer. I want to thank the dealers that are here today for their support and we expect to be in that winner's circle with the tough group of guys here on my right. Again, thanks a million."
RUSTY WALLACE (2003 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It's a real exciting day for me. I can tell you that. I've been through model changes with the Pontiac to Ford and now to Dodge. I've won in all the makes except Dodge so far. I'm real excited about that. I was telling the guys earlier I've got five car dealerships and I sell all kind of makes. They're all good people. We have a good time with all of them. I was able to tour the technology center a couple of months ago with Dodge and take a look at it and was overwhelmed by what I saw. It was just an incredible effort they put forth. I saw some great opportunities up there. When Roger and Walt (Czarnecki, Executive Vice President, Penske Corporation) first came up with this idea, they laid it out, we talked about it and it sounded like a heck of a great idea. With what I saw up at Dodge in Detroit the other day, it was very exciting. This decision came together pretty quick. I think the contract just got inked a couple of days ago. I'm excited to be able to work with the other Dodge teams. It's going to be a lot of fun. I know Ray has been with Roger back in IROC for a long time, so he's come full circle. It's going to be exciting to work with his team and Chip's team and everybody. Hopefully we can put the cars up front starting with the 2003 Daytona 500 and win that thing. That would be great. I'm excited about the move and happy to be a part of the team."
RYAN NEWMAN (2003 No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I guess being a rookie and all, I was honored in the first place to drive for Roger Penske, Don Miller and Rusty Wallace and be part of Penske Racing. Then to be in my first year and go out here and them want me to switch, Dodge is interested in me. It's an honor to be a part of that situation and to be recognized as a talented driver. Throughout my racing career, I started driving when I was really young, I never paid any money to move to the next level. It's an honor to have somebody who wants to move me to the next level. I think they've got a great program, great motorsports group, a lot of great people and I've said before there's a lot of great engineers over there that I met at the tech center. I'm really looking forward to the whole situation. It's going to be an ongoing process in my rookie season to finish out what we're doing here and start with a whole new change next year, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think our teams can work with it and succeed next year.
"This is something a little different. I always wondered about you Dodge people. You can drive down the road and look in the mirror and you see a sign that says Dodge. You're like, 'which way do I go?' If a guy passes and you follow him, it says Ram. So what do you do? Do you hit him or do you try to miss him?"
"I think that we've always had a mission to be vertically integrated, to have the ability with our own engine capability, certainly aerodynamics as we know in this sport have become more and more important and the vehicle dynamics, so we're going to take those principals we've learned over the last several years and apply them to Dodge. We saw an extension of many of the things that we're doing are going to be available to us as we go forward, so I'd say it's going to be a combination of their technology and ours. Hopefully it'll put all the Dodge teams up front.
"We had a three-year contract with Ford that expires the end of this season. We had the opportunity to talk to a couple of manufacturers about our future. I think that discussions probably took place over the last 90-120 days as we started to understand the requirements it was going to take for us to make such a move. We wanted to look at it technically. We looked at aerodynamics. In fact, Don Miller and the team and John Erickson actually put a car together to take a look at. We took an engine and took the pieces available and ran those on a dynometer. This just wasn't deal where we said we're going to switch because we want to switch or it's a money situation. We looked at the technology that was available to us and the opportunities to go forward. I would say it's probably been three months and we signed a contract last week. We were working on this thing hot and heavy up until last week.
"Ilmore obviously has been part of one of the companies we've invested in over the last 15 plus years. With the passing away of Paul Morgan, an unfortunate accident in his airplane a year ago in May, we've made the decision, the estate of Paul Morgan, Penske Racing and also Mario Ilien to sell 30 percent of our interest to DaimlerChrysler. They are the primary supplier of Forumla One engines to McLaren. We would look to them obviously as we have in the past for certain technology opportunities, but there's nothing today that says that we made this move because of Ilmore. Ilmore is an opportunity for us. It's a technical base we can take a look at as Cosworth is to Ford and other people have other opportunities within that racing environment.
"I could say it's a multi-year contract, but it's three years.
"We purchased United Auto Group about three years ago, a publically traded auto retailer, and within that group we have a number of Dodge dealerships. We have a large operation in Arkansas that sells all three brands. This was a perfect extention. Our people were involved as they made the decision three years ago, the dealers voted positively to go forward, so I'd say that extension is certainly there. The relationship with Ilmore that was mentioned earlier ties that together. We have a relationship on the Daimler side with Mercedes, so to me it's been an important step and also as you know we had sold Detroit Diesel to DaimlerChrysler two years ago. When you put all that together this was certainly an obvious move.
"Jasper-Penske Engines is owned two-thirds by Penske Racing and one-third with Jasper, and we'll continue to handle the engines for Jasper as we go into 2003.
"I haven't had a chance to drive the Dodge yet. I haven't been able to. Hopefully when the year's over we can do that. I just look at the technology side of it, and that's about it.
"This is the second time this has happened. I remember when we left Pontiac in 1993 we finished second for the championship. We were going for the championship right down to the last race with Dale Earnhardt and he nipped me at the line in Atlanta. We switched over to Ford and that year we were able to win eight races. Any time you leave good people, it's a tough deal. There's no doubt about that. All these car guys are good people. We compete real hard off the race track. On the other end of it, it's people. I think we've done a really good job for them. We've done a good job for them. We haven't burned any bridges. I think we fulfilled our commitment to Ford. I hope they're happy with the job Penske Racing has done for them. I know there's been a lot of victories there. Ryan has had a banner year with all the excitement he's raised for Ford. Again, I sell Fords. I'll continue to sell Fords. I sell Pontiacs. I'll continue to sell Pontiacs. It's one big happy family out there, and I hope to sell Dodges one day.
"It was just myself and Roger and Walt and Don Miller and John Erickson and Ryan. We had the opportunity to tour the tech center and when I went up there I was overwhelmed by what I saw in opportunities, and that was it. I really haven't talked to anybody (other Dodge drivers). I've watched what happens on the race track. I see how their cars run whether it's Daytona or the short tracks or the road courses or whatever and evaluate that in my own mind."
"I'm from Indiana. I'm from Purdue, so it was very important. Suffice to say, the Penske operation, Rusty Wallace, this was a huge deal for Dodge. I think it marks a whole new level of what we can do in motorsports. I'm excited about Daytona next year.
"I think we find teams that are willing to work together. They still beat each other's brains out on Sunday. One of the things I've enjoyed about so far in our racing return is how well the teams work together, how well they share information, how well they try to make each other faster until the weekend and then all bets are off. I like that. It's a great chemistry, and I think the Penske operation is going to add to that."
"I've been to a lot of car manufacturers and they're all pretty good but boy their capabilities exceed everything. Plus, I like nice new stuff. When I saw that new building and that new wind tunnel and that new this and that, it kind of got me really excited. You sit back and think about it and people ask me what I'm doing. Is this career suicide or whatever, but to me it's the same thing we did when we went from Pontiac to Ford. Like Roger said, we've built the cars, we've run the motors, so we know what we're up against. You watch 'em run on the racetrack. I'm not concerned at all with the move. I think it'll be a really good move. Change is good.
"I think I'll get a real good effort from the management. These guys really want us, and that's the neat thing. It's not like we called them up and asked them to sign us up. They called us and said they wanted us. You can tell the excitement. They feel like this is a huge step for them and we're proud to be involved with them. It's a lot different asking for something than being wanted for something. They want us and we want to be with them.
"I hope this just isn't a car manufacturer thing. We looked at that a little bit, too. NASCAR.com did a poll not too long ago asking if they would still be a Rusty fan if I switched to Dodge. It was overwhelming they pulled for the driver and a small percentage was car people. I feel confident I'll still have my fans, and hopefully we'll get some more.
"It came together fairly quickly at the end, but I will tell you, right up until three weeks ago we were asking if we were going to do it or not. We gathered all the information, had all the information and now should we pull the trigger? I looked at everything. I looked at what the fans thought about it. I looked at what our sponsors would think of it and then Penske and myself and Ryan and John and Don and Walt. We all stood behind a round table and asked each other what we thought. We kept tossing it back and forth with Larry Wallace, our engine guy. Larry Wallace, our engine guy, was basically the key guy to this whole thing. If he felt as though we couldn't make the horsepower, then we probably would have to take a second look, but he felt he could make good horsepower with this stuff and all the pieces came together, so we said 'boom, let's do it.'
"If we were ever going to do it, this was the year to do it. Next year the bodies are going to be almost identical. We didn't have to say we might be at a disadvantage with the body or a disadvantage to this or that because now all the bodies are about the same. It came down to Wallace. He felt confident. We had to cut the bodies off every single car we've got. When these cars are done at the end of the year, if I win the race today, that body is getting cut off. Everybody has got to cut them off. This was the best decision to go ahead and do it at this point. We've got a contract with Ford Motor Company until the end of the year and I'm not going to say anything bad about Ford Motor Company. They've been wonderful to me. I sell them. I've won a lot of races for 'em. Hopefully they're really happy with the job we've done for them. We've fulfilled our commitment in many, many ways. I think we've done a great job for them, but it's kinda like when you leave somebody there's a little sorrow there. The Ford guys hate to see us go, but it's like Roger said. It's a huge business decision, from the sell of Detroit Diesel to DaimlerChrysler and all the dealerships he's got. The Ilmore thing. Everybody kept saying it didn't make any sense for us to drive Ford. Finally it'll make sense.
"Everybody keeps giving up the points race. There's a problem here and a problem there. It's kind of like last week at Talladega. I ran pretty good. I finished 13th, but we didn't make it on fuel mileage. The guys we were racing for the points all blew up. It's like everybody keeps passing this hot potato back and forth, and I just hope they keep throwing it to me. You've got to move on with that (losing 25 points), but it did make me think. John Darby said he knew I didn't know anything about it. All I knew is that my team went to the wind tunnel and they felt they had a spoiler they optimized within the rules. They submitted it to NASCAR for inspection at Talladega and NASCAR said no. After they got through telling me they knew I didn't know anything about it, then I wondered why they fined me 25 points and the car owner. I didn't build it, so I'd like to have my 25 driver points back. They might think about it later on. Once the decision is made, they're made. The only thing I can do now is keep digging and see what I can come up with at the end of the year."
"There's no question that bringing a young man on board of his tenacity, his understanding of the car and his commitment to racing, not only Ryan himself but his family, has been a great opportunity for Penske Racing. He's added a dimension we didn't have, having the ability to have two cars running out of the same shop with the same equipment has given us the chance to evaluate and obviously Ryan and Rusty are pulling each other to the front. I think that's why you see the consistency of both teams. He's a winner. He's a quality person. We're thrilled to have him on our team. I think when you see what he's been able to do in his first season of Winston Cup with how competitive it is, I think he's going to be a real superstar.
"The technology for chassis and suspension will stay the same. The aero work we have to do to develop the engine, but I had a chance to sit down with each one of the team members and we made this decision as a team, not just as one individual. It's a great opportunity for Ryan, and he can be a real assist to Dodge Motorsports.
"I think when you have your family supporting you, and certainly in Ryan's case his mom and dad have been behind him, and that's what brings young men to the top. You don't get a break sometimes, but we saw the consistency and we signed him three years ago. We have a multi-year contract with him going forward. I see him like Rick Mears or Rusty, a long-term relationship.
"We've had Dodge engine parts for two or three months. We had to make evaluations, and with NASCAR rule changes that threw a hook into it. We were going in one direction and now they've got new templates. From the engine perspective, it's been about three months. We've run on the dyno with it and we've done some of the things we can do to the engine. We see some real opportunity there.
"From a business to business perspective, we have the largest Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership in the country in Arkansas. We were endorsing the program for Dodge because of the other relationships we have within the Dodge organization in other cities. We have the relationship with DaimlerChrysler at Ilmore. We had the relationship with Detroit Diesel, so this has been an extension. The one team approach, the technology, I've known Ray and Chip, Pettys, Davis' team, these are all great teams to compete with, and I think we add a dimension. What we have to have is the manufacturer in the winner's circle and if we can be part of that, it'll help us all. With Evernham and his expertise, he's got to be one of the quality guys in this sport. We have to deliver. You get your earnings release every Sunday afternoon, and that's one thing I like about it. You can't hide. These types of changes are good, too. Sometimes you see a driver change and they step up. I think this team is going to step up. We don't want to go backwards. We think we can be better and we're tied in with a first-class organization. Ford has been outstanding with us and our relationship with GM in the past with Pontiac, but this was the time to make a change."
"This is something I'm really looking forward to. They've got a great technical approach to everything they do. They're here to be the best, to be the fastest on the street and off the street. It's good to be a part of that whole program. We'll have some of their red next year, but we'll still be the black and white ALLTEL car and we'll be in a Dodge. Hopefully we can be more successful.
"What we do stays within Penske Racing whether it's working on the car or setup, but there's a whole new team out there when it comes to working with the Dodge people. We'll have to see how things go. I'm looking forward to driving the Dodge at Daytona and to all the testing. There's a lot of development that goes into it. We want to be the best we can be.
"There's plenty of big boys in other makes, but we're happy to be a part of it. There are a lot of good Dodge teams. Looking at the big picture, Sterling led the points for 25 races in a Dodge this year. It shows me it's capable. We saw Bill Elliott on the flat track at Pocono and he hauled the mail. There are a lot of things to look forward to when this season ends in November."