DANNY O'QUINN ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR PRESS CONFERENCE WITH ROUSH RACING TEAM OWNER JACK ROUSH O'Quinn: "It feels awesome. I was just sitting back at the trailer there and we were all kind of nervous and shaking there. We didn't know what was going...
DANNY O'QUINN ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR PRESS CONFERENCE WITH ROUSH RACING TEAM OWNER JACK ROUSH
"It feels awesome. I was just sitting back at the trailer there and we were all kind of nervous and shaking there. We didn't know what was going to happen, but this is just an awesome program. I've got to thank Raybestos and everybody for putting this on for us. It's been a fun year. We've had a lot of ups and downs. I wanted to be running a little better at the beginning of the year, but we picked up a lot the second half of the year. It was a rookie team and I was a rookie driver, and we were coming to a lot of these places for the first time. We stayed out of trouble when we weren't having the best runs at the first of the year, and we worked really hard. My team never let a down a bit, even when we weren't having such a good day. I really owe this to them guys. They give us great cars each and every week. Roush Racing is an unbelievable team to be driving for, and tonight's the first mechanical failure that we've had all year long. I think that's pretty impressive in a 35-race season to have only one mechanical failure, and it just says a lot for our team. I've got to thanks everybody, Stonebridge Life Insurance, World Financial Group, Barr-Nunn Transposition and Transamerica. Those guys came on board and took a big chance on a rookie this year, and fortunately we are able to deliver this rookie-of-the-year to them."
WHEN YOU ENTERED THE SEASON, DID YOU THINK YOU'D BE COMPETING FOR THIS AWARD AGAINST A 10-YEAR VETERAN?
"No, I didn't. You think of rookie and you think of racing against guys like me and Todd and Burnie. Racing with John, it definitely brought a little extra competition to it with him being to a lot of these tracks. He helped us a lot, though. He helped all of us rookies a lot when we went to the rookie meetings and things, he would come out and tell us things about the track, so he aided to our rookie meetings a lot. It was a lot of fun racing with him all year long."
A LOT OF NASCAR NOTABLES HAVE WON THIS HONOR.
"It's unbelievable for me to look at the names like you just mentioned. There are only a few people that can say that they've won the rookie-of-the-year and I'm honored to be one of them. There's a lot of great drivers that came from that and hopefully I can just add to that list."
"Danny has been really a treat to work with this year. He'll bend your heart. He's a big teddy bear, but he's also a fast race car driver. We had Danny in our Discovery Channel Driver X competition last fall and he was very, very good. The metrics that we used to decide - to put the points up one driver against the other - were almost arbitrary, and Danny and David Ragan and Erik Darnell were at a virtual tie, so we just had to try to find something for all three of them. The difficulty was, as we put all these new team together, we kept going further and further down the human resource pool. We were halfway through the year before Danny got a car that was built for Danny, and I'm sure that some of them weren't too comfortable and didn't have as much room in them as he needed. It just took a long time to get this program going because it was the third one in line and they were all new. Danny made a good accounting of himself and he's had a number of great races. One of the telling stories on Danny, we were at Memphis and he was racing against someone that I was not familiar with, and the spotter and crew chief got real nervous because this person kept putting his nose in. Danny was more familiar with that track and the people around the track than probably anybody that was with him, and after a little while Danny said, 'Don't worry about it. He's raced with me before and he understands. It will be OK.' So, Danny has that dimension that breaks ties when they get close. We sure enjoy having Danny being part of the program. We don't have sponsorship for it next year, and this Raybestos rookie championship will sure help him a lot."
"The Driver X program was great. Jack sets that up a lot different than most teams do. You actually have an opportunity to go out there and compete against other drivers in equal equipment. I think that definitely comes out and gives you a fair advantage. Just because you're out there maybe getting beat at a local track or something, there a lot of teams out there in different touring series that are well funded and me working on my own cars out of my own shop, sometimes I didn't have the best knowledge or best equipment. Jack is an awesome guy. He's a racer and he understands what it's like. He put together a great program and he's been doing it for a ling time and it's obviously worked well for him all through the years. I was just fortunate enough to be able to go through that and finish in the top three and for him putting together a great opportunity this year, I just can't thank them enough - Jack and Geoff and everybody there. They've given me an unbelievable opportunity to come over here. This time last year, if you told me that we were going to be rookie of the year, much less even run a Busch race this year, I would have been thrilled to death; I wouldn't know what to think. I've got to thank these guys. It's awesome working with Matt and Mark and all of these guys over here. They've helped me a lot. I'm just fortunate enough to be in this situation."
"We've struggled up and down this year, and like I said, we're fortunate enough to get this. I've learned a lot this year and I can apply that to future seasons. I'm really fortunate, and I can't thank Raybestos and everybody enough for putting this together."
IS IT WEIRD BEING CROWNED ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AND NOT HAVING A FULL-TIME RIDE NEXT YEAR?
"Well, it's definitely antsy. Hopefully this will help us find a sponsor and things for next year. I definitely want to be over here driving for Jack next year, but we all know that it's sponsor dollars that make these things go. We've got to attract a good sponsor to put me in a program somewhere over here, but hopefully this will help us with that. I'm definitely on the edge of my seat right now, and I'm sure everyone who's in this situation understands that, so we'll have to ask Jack about that."
-credit: roush racing