NOTE: Penske Racing will field two special paint schemes for Sunday's race. The No. 12 Dodge driven by Ryan Newman will be painted to replicate the car that won the first race for Penske Racing in 1973 driven by the late Mark Donohue. The No. 2 ...
NOTE: Penske Racing will field two special paint schemes for Sunday's race. The No. 12 Dodge driven by Ryan Newman will be painted to replicate the car that won the first race for Penske Racing in 1973 driven by the late Mark Donohue. The No. 2 Dodge driven by Rusty Wallace will carry the popular black and gold colors Wallace drove to numerous victories for Penske Racing.
DON MILLER (President, Penske Racing South)
"Penske Racing has accumulated 53 wins. We started our first race in the stock car world in 1973. Mark Donohue won that race in Riverside, Calif., in 1973. Mark went into Formula One, so we got Bobby Allison and he won five more races for us. In 1978 we took a hiatus for 13 years and Roger and Rusty and I formed Penske Racing South. We came back in 1991 and Rusty won two races for us the first year and went on to win a total of 35.
"We've added to the total with Ryan Newman with another nine wins. The big number was reaching that 50 mark at Michigan this year. We thought we'd make a little celebration out of it. We've got two first-class paint jobs. We borrowed the Matador from the Talladega Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the old Midnight Pontiac, which is probably the winningest Pontiac in all of NASCAR history. Rusty won 10 races in that car. We brought those and redecorated our current Dodges and we have some guys coming Sunday that you might be interested in. Mark Donohue's son, David, Bobby Allison, Roger Penske, and our two current drivers.
"Over the 20 years of actual racing, we entered 735 races and had 55 poles. The amazing thing is 363 top 10s. That's 50 percent, and that's a pretty good number."
BOBBY ALLISON (Former Penske Driver)
"Roger Penske came on the scene with Mark Donohue, and of course Donohue was the premiere road course racer in the whole world in my estimation. They came to Riverside, and I really liked Riverside. The first time they showed up they won the race. Mark was killed later that year, and they ended up racing with Gary Bettenhausen in the car. Gary got hurt and they called and asked me if I'd run the car at Daytona on the Fourth of July. We led the race and the engine started missing and we didn't win. We went to Ontario the last race of the season and won the race with the Matador. It was a great thrill for me and Roger, but the engine building had a little part on the engine that NASCAR didn't like. They fined me, and my fine was determined by the number on Bill France's airplane at the time. His number was 9100 November, and my fine was $9,100. We came back and won at Riverside and won two races in '75 at Darlington. My experience with Penske was really great. Roger wanted to go run the Indy cars, and I wanted to stay in NASCAR, so we parted company but we stayed friends. I still admire him and what he's done."
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid)
"The number 50 is a real big number for our team. I know when I was hunting my 50th victory it was real important. Getting my 50th victory was cool. When Ryan was able to get the 50th win for Penske Racing this year in Michigan, it was real important. We're excited to be able to celebrate it. It'll be exciting to see the cars going around the track on the parade lap Sunday. We've got two special paint schemes here. I'm real proud to be a part of it.
"I've won here five times. I've won at most tracks out here a bunch of times, but cars are different and tires are different. Every guy gets out of his car now and runs to a laptop computer. I'm not used to that. It's been tough for me to get accustomed to that. I've been working hard on it this year, and our cars have handled good this year. We've had some bad pit calls, stupid luck but the thing that put the KO on it was when I went to Watkins Glen this year and I lost the brakes. I went to Michigan and it blew up. We had four DNFs in a row, and I've never had that. We went from seventh in the points to 18th. In September I had five top eights in a row and then last week we finished 33rd because of a bonehead move on my part. I haven't talked to Tony about it yet, but I will. I've been out in Vegas at the SEMA show, and I wasn't in the mood to talk to anybody this week. I got back home yesterday morning, and I haven't had time to call anybody really.
"The first race here this year I was coming across the start-finish line and the second-place car was on the back straightaway. We dreamed up that setup. There was no rubber on the track. About three quarters of the way through the race, the track got rubbered up and my car got loose as hell. I thought it was a bad set of tires, and I didn't adjust enough on it knowing the racetrack was going away on me. We've got the same car this week. Car 54 is one of my favorite cars. I hope I can catch up to the track. The track has really been good to me. I enjoy coming here, and I've got two shots to get back in victory lane, and I'm sure as hell going to try.
"For me it would be special to win any race right now. You can go ahead and print it in big black headlines now. Rusty says his 2003 season has been the ultimate suck season. At times we had a lot of sun shining on it. When I had half a lap lead here in the first race of the year, and all of a sudden I blew that with a loose racecar. Whoever dreamed that was going to happen? We'll start with the same setup and tighten up from there."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)
"I guess I've got a little different perspective on everything. Growing up I remember seeing the Matador in the museum, and I remember seeing Rusty's car racing on TV, knowing that I wanted to be a Winston Cup stock car driver. Being here today and contribute to the wins for Penske and to have the honor to get that 50th victory for Penske at Michigan at a track that Roger Penske designed and developed, I guess a lot of great things were aligned. To be where I am and do the things I've done this year and help the team and help reach that 50 mark it's just really an honor for me. Don Miller has watched just about every lap a Penske car has gone around the racetrack. Rusty has a lot of laps and helped designed a part of Penske Racing. Bobby Allison sitting next to me, again, it's an honor to be sitting here and doing what I'm doing right now.
"We had been talking about the fact that we were close to our 50th win and we were talking about the plans we might have. I knew Michigan would be a good opportunity to get the 50th, and I thought about it a few laps before the end of the race. It's an honor for me to be where I am, and on top of that, to hit the milemarker with the 50th win is great.
"Obviously we've excelled at qualifying and winning races. We didn't follow through with our goals of having only two DNFs. We've about tripled that. We fell short in other areas, but we've led the number of laps we wanted to lead.
"I'm ready for a break from a time perspective. I've been pulling my hair out, running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to finish off a lot of things. At the same time, only the strong survive. If we could keep going, I think our team would excel in that respect.
"It'd be cool to win the last fall race at The Rock, especially since we haven't had a top 10 finish here, similar to the experience we had last week at Phoenix. It was our first top five. We'll see how it plays out, but it would be a cool thing. We've missed the setup here a little bit. We've been fast, but we haven't been fast for a long run. Typically here it's a long run race. That's something we've got to reconsider in how I drive the racecar and what setup we have underneath it.
"It depends on what position you're in. If you're out front, it's easier to save your tires. If you've got to get to the front, you can't save your tires."