Dodge Awards $1 Million Bonus to Penske Racing
Dodge Finishes 1-2 in 50th Daytona 500; Newman Wins With Teammate Busch Right Behind
Dodge Awards $1 Million Bonus to Penske Racing
Daytona Beach - Teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch gave Dodge its first ever 1-2 sweep in NASCAR’s premier event, the Daytona 500, winning the 50th running of the “Great American Race” Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
The Dodge Charger domination didn’t stop there. Six of the first eight positions were filled by Dodge drivers. Reed Sorenson finished fifth, Elliott Sadler sixth, Kasey Kahne seventh and Robby Gordon eighth.
Chrysler Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli met with Dodge team owners earlier Sunday and announced there would be a $1 million bonus for a Dodge victory. During a meeting with several members of the motorsports press later in the day, he predicted a Dodge victory.
Newman and Busch put together the winning charge on the final lap. The teammates were second and third as the field took the white flag. They drafted their way to the front down the backstretch and stayed glued together through the final two turns and down to the tri-oval for the 1-2 finish.
It was Newman’s first Daytona 500 victory and snapped an 81-race winless streak. He led four times for eight laps in the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, but the most important was the final circuit. The win was also the first Daytona 500 victory for car owner Roger Penske, the most successful owner in open wheel history with 14 Indianapolis 500 victories.
“I’ve been here almost 30 years trying to get in victory lane,” said Penske. “To achieve this with the competition, with Ryan and Roy and the whole team, it’s just unbelievable. We’ve worked hard. We’ve come close. I think it was a pure team effort. Ryan drove a masterful race, as he has done many times and come up short. But today was special for us.”
It was the first Daytona 500 win by a Dodge driver since Ward Burton visited victory lane in 2002.
Newman collected $1,506,045 for the win plus the $1 million bonus from Dodge.
“Kurt was the push from heaven that made it all happen," Newman said. "Without a doubt, he could have easily gone three-wide and split us through the center and made one heck of a mess there. But he chose to be a teammate, and that was the most honorable thing that he could do.
“I don’t have the words to explain how I feel. This is awesome. It’s probably one of the most awesome things that has happened to me. Just to be a part of the 50th running of the Daytona 500; 15 years ago I was sitting in the grandstands in the Seagraves Tower as a spectator. It’s awesome to make the change.”
Busch started 43rd in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger, but managed to work his way to the front and lead nine laps. It was his third runner-up finish in the Daytona 500. He has seven top-five finishes in 15 races at Daytona.
“To give my teammate a shot and to push him to victory makes me feel like we won this thing as well, right along with him,” said Busch. “You have to have teammates when you are restrictor plate racing. You have to work together whether you are on the track or off the track. Penske Racing deserves this. It’s our first ever restrictor plate win and we came through with a one-two finish.”
Newman’s Dodge Charger will be inducted into the Daytona 500 Experience Monday where it will remain on display for one year. Following the induction ceremonies, Newman departs for New York for a media tour and then on to Las Angeles on Tuesday afternoon for more appearances.
"This is an awesome victory,” said Mike Accavitti, Director – Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing. “The win is super important. Ryan and the No. 12 team did an excellent job. Penske Racing was on top of their game today. It was a great showing by all the Dodge teams; to get six out of the top eight is just a phenomenal showing for Dodge. It shows the depth of our program and we couldn’t be more excited for the 2008 season.”
Sorenson and Kahne ran in the top 10 throughout the race while Gordon and Sadler made their move to the front in the latter stages of the 200-lap event. There were 42 lead changes among 16 drivers.
"We had a good car,” said Kahne. “I think we were in the top 10 all day long. I was really happy with the Budweiser Dodge. The team did a good job with the pit stops and the car was great. A Dodge won, so that’s pretty awesome for Dodge and all of us.”
For Sorenson, driver of the No. 41 Target Dodge Charger from Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, it was his third top-10 finish in the Daytona 500.
“Everybody on the team has done a great job since we got here and I think that says a lot about what we can do this year,” said Sorenson.
Gordon said he played it safe in his Dodge Charger until the final 100 miles.
“My car was good,” he said. “I was just surviving and trying not to put myself in position to tear my car up until the last 40 laps. My hat is off to all the guys at GEM (Gillett Evernham Motorsports) and congratulations to Dodge.”
Bobby Labonte finished 11th and Sam Hornish Jr. was 15th, best among the Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders.
“I’m about as happy as I can be with the 15th-place finish,” said Hornish. “We came in with a goal that if we were in the top-20, we would be happy with that. Not only were we able to do that, we were able to see one of our teammates win. That was great.”
Other Dodge finishers were Juan Pablo Montoya 32nd, Dario Franchitti 33rd and Kyle Petty 34th.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Point Standings
(After 1 of 36 Races)
Ryan Newman 190
Kurt Busch 175
Tony Stewart 170
Kyle Busch 170
Reed Sorenson 160
Kasey Kahne 151
Elliott Sadler 150
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 143
Robby Gordon 142
Greg Biffle 139
Bobby Labonte 130
Jeff Burton 129
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Stacy Compton and Dennis Setzer posted top-10 finishes for Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia in the season-opening Craftsman Truck Series event at Daytona International Speedway. Compton finished sixth in the No. 4 Potamkin-Rivera Dodge-sponsored Dodge Ram while Setzer was 10th in the No. 18 “All-New Dodge Journey” Dodge Ram.
Todd Bodine held off Kyle Busch to win the 250-mile event as16 trucks finished on the lead lap. The event was marred by several crashes. It was Bodine’s second consecutive superspeedway race as he won at Talladega (Ala.) last October.
Craftsman Truck Series Points Standings
(After 1 of 25 Races)
1. Todd Bodine 195
2. Kyle Busch 170
3. Johnny Benson 170
4. David Starr 160
5. Rick Crawford 155
6. Stacy Compton 150
7. Chad McCumbee 146
8. Justin Marks 142
9. Brian Scott 138
10. Dennis Setzer 134
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