DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2008) -- After one of the most competitive and exciting Daytona 500s in event history, Ryan Newman had his winning 50th running of the Daytona 500 car – the No. 12 alltel Dodge – inducted into Daytona 500 Experience on Monday morning.
Newman, owner Roger Penske and crew chief Roy McCauley inducted their winning race machine into Daytona 500 Experience as part of the Banquet Brown ’N Serve Champions Breakfast – a day after 42 lead changes, 16 different leaders and a last-lap pass for the lead made for one of the most exciting Daytona 500s in event history.
The trio participated in a fan forum inside the attraction and received their winning Daytona 500 leather jackets from Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig. In addition, Gatorade presented the 2008 Daytona 500 champ with a framed photo from Gatorade Victory Lane.
Newman also autographed artist David Arrigo’s DIRECTV Speedweeks mural hood painting and the entire No. 12 team including Newman had already signed winning No. 12 car the night before.
“It’s sinking in,” Newman said. “It takes time. It’s huge. It’s the 50th running of the Daytona 500 and it’s just an honor to be up here with (owner) Roger Penske and (crew chief) Roy McCauley and all these guys over here in the blue shirts. I kinda want them to go back to work pretty soon.
“It’s just an honor to be here. It was a great race last night. I have to thank Kurt Busch for the great push, great teammate, great team effort, great organization run by Roger Penske that enabled us to get the alltel Dodge into Victory Lane.”
The 50th running of the Daytona 500 will go down as one of the most memorable in history with 42 lead changes among 16 drivers. The 16 different leaders were the second-highest total in the history of “The Great American Race (record is 2006, 18 leaders).
The 42 lead changes at the start/finish line were the most since 2001 (49) and there 81 green flag passes for the lead on the legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval is the second-most at DIS since 2005 when the gathering of Loop Data began.
During his question and answer session with the media on Monday, Newman, who pocketed a winner’s check of $1,506,045, reflected on his early memories of visiting Daytona International Speedway with his family.
Newman, a graduate of Purdue with a degree in engineering, usually sat in the Segrave Grandstands and admitted that he used counterfit credentials.
“There were times where we might have bought some construction paper a time or two,” Newman said. “There were a couple of times where I had some friends in the garage that might have given me a crew shirt. But, I don’t recall those times. You do what you’ve got to do to get in man. You have to create your own opportunities sometimes.
“We always had tickets. But that isn’t always where you want to be – you want to be in the garage area – and when you’re a driver, you want to be amongst other drivers.”
Newman left Daytona International Speedway on Monday afternoon to kick off a week-long whirlwind media tour in New York City and California with scheduled appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman and Live with Regis and Kelly.
“I’ve watch some Letterman and I know he’s a Hoosier and I know he’s very quick-witted and all of those things so I’ll try to give him a run for his money,” Newman said.
Banquet Brown ’N Serve Champions Breakfast Notes And Quotes
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 alltel Dodge and 2008 Daytona 500 champion
ON IF IT HAS SUNK IN THAT HE’S A DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION
“It’s sinking in. It takes time. It’s huge. It’s the 50th running of the Daytona 500 and it’s just an honor to be up here with (owner) Roger Penske and (crew chief) Roy McCauley and all these guys over here in the blue shirts – I kinda want them to go back to work pretty soon. In general, it’s just an honor to be here. It was a great race last night. I have to thank Kurt Busch for the great push, great teammate, great team effort, great organization run by Roger Penske that enabled us to get the alltel Dodge into Victory Lane.”
ON HIS DAD SPOTTING FOR HIM DURING THE RACE
“I said in Victory Lane that I heard tears dropping over the radio, and that’s no exaggeration because he’s emotional. He’s had a couple of health issues at times and he’s put himself on the edge. To have him here and to be a part of this is a dream come true for me. It was kind of a reassurance for me to know – and he’s been watching me for 26 years driving a car – he knows when I have one in the bag and when I don’t and he knows when it’s close. I just felt, as I got into Turn 3, that it was going to be a good one back to the start/finish line and he was right.”
ON ATTENDING THE RACE AS A FAN AND FORGING CREDENTIALS TO GET INTO THE GARAGE
“There were times where we might have bought some construction paper a time or two. There were a couple of times where I had some friends in the garage that might have given me a crew shirt. But, I don’t recall those times. You do what you’ve got to do to get in man. You have to create your own opportunities sometimes.
“We always had tickets. But that isn’t always where you want to be – you want to be in the garage area – and when you’re a driver, you want to be amongst other drivers. I remember times when we slipped through the gate with no credentials whatsoever because that was the level of security that they had. I sat on the pit wall and got A.J. Foyt’s autograph when he was still driving here in the 500 and the Gatorade Duels. We first came down here when my grandfather passed away. It gave us the opportunity to come down. We came down with my aunt and uncle, spent time in their motel room sleeping on the floor, and we had bad habits. We stayed up all night racing, came back and had Krispy Kremes for dinner and had Krispy Kremes for breakfast and that’s part of the reason I look the way I do. We had good times though. He’d come and pick me up from his work and pulled me out of school. The stipulation was that I had to have my schoolwork done. We had a log book of records to see which state we could clear the fastest. It was just all good times. We’d drive down here at night and we’d pull into the Cracker Barrel parking lot and sleep. That was one of the first things we talked about this weekend. He actually said that this weekend on the radio, ‘Do you remember pulling into the Cracker Barrel and sleeping?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I remember getting up in the middle of the night and having to take a leak and it was raining too hard so I just stayed in the car. So, I remember a lot of things.
“So much effort has gone into me sitting here. But, we always had tickets because they were in the family and the idea was to get in the garage. Sometimes we’d use construction paper. I remember stopping at a Winn Dixie over here and we’d look for construction paper. We did what we had to do. If you were good enough you could sneak in, figure out what the credentials actually looked like, and then you’d go back and make your own.”
ON TALKING WITH ANY OF THE DRIVERS AFTER WINNING THE DAYTONA 500
“King Richard Petty came to our bus after everything was over with. He just came over and smiled and hugged, and Lynda (Richard’s wife) as well, and talked to Krissie (Ryan’s wife). It was just an honor to have someone like the King come over and take time out of his schedule when he has other things to do and congratulate you. Even people like Ken Schrader that came up to me in Victory Lane and just gave me a hug and walked off. He didn’t say a word. So many other drivers. Kurt, I had a note on the door from Carl Edwards and his crew, ‘Congratulations, you’re the man,’ Matt Kenseth is a pretty close friend and I’ve been texting him back and forth last night and this morning. Martin Truex is a friend. Just a lot of people. But when the King came over, that was pretty special.”
ON HOW SPECIAL IT IS TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500
“I’ve thought about it a bit -- again, it hasn’t all sunk in – when we had the driver’s meeting with all of the great drivers up there, to see all the history of the sport sitting on one stage – obviously it’s not all the history, it’s only part of the history – but to be someone who appreciates the history (of the Daytona 500), whether it’s ’76 when Petty and (David) Pearson had their deal or ’98 when (Dale) Earnhardt shook everyone’s hand on pit road, those are the two things that stick out in my mind. Just to be part of the 50th running is an honor – to win it, it’s got to sink in.”
ON KURT BUSCH
“Kurt was the ultimate teammate. He had plenty of opportunity to dive to the inside and go on his own and he stuck with me. It goes back to Talladega last year and the great experience we had there when I at least finished in the Top five. We stuck to our guns, we stuck with the plan and drafted and worked together. We talked after Saturday’s practice about how hard it is to draft and how hard it is to bump draft and how you have to have your bumpers just exactly aligned and that’s just on the straightaways. There were a couple of times that I pushed Tony through the corners and I was like, ‘Tony, hang on buddy, we’re going for a ride’. We stuck it out and it takes great drivers to be able to do those types of things. I was just in the right place at the right time at the end.”
ON BEING ON THE DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW, REGIS AND KELLY AND WHAT HIS PLANS WERE THAT HE HAD TO CANCEL THIS WEEK
“Fishing, splitting wood, hanging out with the dogs, fishing, splitting some more wood. Honestly, I was looking forward to going home. I was all packed and ready to go home because that’s just what we do. We actually had a lot of our stuff – because we’re not taking our bus to California – on other’s people busses and we had to call everything back. I guess that’s a good problem to have.
size="2">“As far as Letterman and Regis and those, I don’t watch a lot of TV. I’ve watch some Letterman and I know he’s a Hoosier and I know he’s very quick-witted and all of those things, so I’ll try to give him a run for his money.
“I’m going to try to keep up with Mr. Letterman. I have to wake-up first of all – I’m still dragging a little bit.
Roger Penske, owner of Penske Racing and the cars driven by Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman and runner-up Kurt Busch
ON TRYING TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500 SINCE 1972
“It took a long time. I don’t know why it took so long. The competition continues to get tougher and tougher and we’ve seen that over the years and we haven’t been able to execute, quite honestly. We’ve been second and third in the past, but I think the team effort and certainly with Ryan and the job he did yesterday. All day long he was competitive and was competitive in the (Gatorade Duels). I think people maybe didn’t realize that. Kurt had a problem in the (Gatorade Duels), but when it was time to go he passed 16th to 6th I think on that restart and got into position which was what we needed.”
ON THE DYNAMICS OF RYAN NEWMAN AND KURT BUSCH’S PERSONALITIES, THEIR DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO RACING, YET OBTAINING THE SAME RESULTS
“How much time do you have? You’ve got a highly technical individual on my right (Ryan) who is committed to racing and really came up with an engineering degree. Kurt, he and his dad and his brother raced at short tracks out in Nevada and Ryan did the same with Greg Newman. To me, it’s about teamwork. We don’t expect everybody to have to go out with each other Friday and Saturday night, but when it comes to racing... I think we’ve tried this year to put together a communication process. After every practice, all three drivers, crew chiefs and engineers get together. I think that’s been a big step forward because Ryan knows what Kurt knows is out on the track, too. I think the two of them respect each other and I think one pushes the other. They did it yesterday in another way, but I mean on the track, from the standpoint of performance. Ryan might answer that question better than I do. We’re trying to set the stage, but obviously they’re the ones that have to play.”
ON HOW THE TEAM CELEBRATED THE WIN
“We had a great night last night and certainly, to be able to go on the bus and watch television and see what really happened – it happened so fast on the racetrack – just to sit back and take a deep breath and see the results. For me, it was a tremendous win for the whole team. Ryan’s been so close and they’ve done a great job qualifying and people said he couldn’t execute it, but I think yesterday was the day he came through and drove a great race – not just the last couple of laps. I think the car was competitive all day.”
Roy McCauley, crew chief of the No. 12 alltel Dodge
ON HIS HISTORY WITH RYAN
“From any crew chief’s standpoint, your dream situation is having a guy that doesn’t hesitate to push the button. The first thing that I always think about Ryan is that he’s going to get everything that he can from the car. From my real standpoint of us working together, I can’t put my finger on it except for that it’s really easy for us to talk. I would say that the keyword would be respect – both ways. Respect does a lot for any work relationship and it’s turned into a friendship, too. We’re very business-like about how we race, and that’s probably a fault of mine because I’m too business-like at times, but he can certainly help me with that. I think it’s just the mutual respect that we have and being able to focus is also another key factor between the two of us. We seem to be able to focus on what the most important thing to address is and rather than worry about 5% performance gain, we’re getting 20 and 30% performance gain when it matters.”