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February 17, 2008
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: Ryan Newman will be joining us momentarily. But we're pleased to be joined by team owner Roger Penske and crew chief Roy McCauley. Congratulations on winning the 50th running of the Daytona 500.
I'll ask you, Roger, your thoughts about this victory tonight.
ROGER PENSKE: I can say I've been here almost probably 30 years trying to get in Victory Circle. To achieve this with this competition, with Ryan, the student really of the sport, and Roy and the whole team, just been unbelievable.
You know, we've worked hard; we've come close. I think it was a pure team effort. When you saw the end there, you saw the 18 lined up with the 20, and you two the 2 lined up with the 12. I think that's what it took.
To me, you know, Ryan drove a masterful race, as he's done many times and come up short. But today was special for us. You know, as I said, Rick Hendrick is a guy I always look up to. He called me today, because I called him to say what a great job they'd done all week, what he had done with Junior.
I said, Look, if I get in that winner's circle, I want one of those H hats. He brought one down to me. Maybe that's the good luck call I had when I talked to him earlier.
Ryan, you did a helluva job for us, and thanks for the team and for all the people that support us. All our 40,000 employees are going to be high-fiving you for sure.
KERRY THARP: Let's hear from Roy. Your thoughts? What did you see from up top pit box tonight?
ROY McCAULEY: I'll tell you what, it was a race of durability when it comes to the tires and things like that. Ryan drove a masterful race as far as when he had the car, he could run in the first five.
When he didn't have the car, he'd find a slot somewhere between 6th and 10th and mind his time until we could get it right. I think that's the mark of being a smart driver and using your car when you can.
I'll echo Roger's comments about total team effort. I think it's a big day for Penske Racing altogether because I worked with Pat Tryson and Chris Carrier the whole day on the radio as to what would benefit the team as a whole.
As far as pit strategy goes, obviously once we could stop at lap 160 and make it on fuel, it was just going to be a matter of if another caution come out, where you going to put tires on. I'm not going to kid you, we had some second thoughts here and there.
But I felt the track position was better overall trying to stay out of the accidents which normally come at the end of a plate race. They usually come in droves the last 20 laps. Thankfully history repeated itself on that one.
You know, like I said, Ryan drove a great race. The car was a handful at the end. Thanks to our teammates and the team as a whole, we were able to pull one off.
KERRY THARP: Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, how does it feel to win the 50th running of the Daytona 500?
RYAN NEWMAN: Don't have the words. It's awesome. It's probably one of the most awesome things that's ever happened to me. To understand all the history of NASCAR, of racing in general, you know, the drivers meeting, to be looking face to face with all the guys, the greats that were on stage up there, and now to be part of one of those guys and part of that team, it's just awesome.
I've always said that Indianapolis was great to be able to walk in the garage area and know that you're touching the same footprints as other guys that were such great drivers for the last hundred years there. Just to be part of the 50th running of the Daytona 500, you know, 15 years ago I was sitting in the grandstands in the Seagrave Tower. It's awesome to make the changes.
Got to thank Roger Penske, Don Miller, everybody at Penske Racing, Roy McCauley obviously. But obviously Kurt Busch. Without a doubt, he could have easily gone three-wide and split us through the center and made one heck of a mess there going into three, but he chose to be a teammate. That's the most honorable thing that he could do. I would have done the same thing to him.
Just thank him a bunch. Thank our Penske/Jasper engine group for the great horsepower. I felt at times we had a really good car. I felt at times we were struggling. To be coming out on top, as Roy said, with maybe not the best tires or the best situation, but to have the track position was a great effort.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for our championship team.
Q. Ryan, can you walk us through the last lap? What were you thinking was going to happen? How did it go?
RYAN NEWMAN: You honestly don't know. I mean, I would say for sure the leader was a sitting duck on every restart. I didn't think the 31 had the greatest car all day. We were fortunate that when they split apart that I got the chance to push Tony. That made a difference 'cause that lane moved, it gave Kurt the opportunity to run the high line, which he wanted to.
Kind of the moons just aligned. When I pushed Tony through one and two, part of one and two, I was hoping he was going to hang on to it because I was pushing as hard as I could. We broke free. Kurt came up behind me off of two and just gave me the push from heaven.
It was awesome. Listening to my dad on the radio spotting for me, all the other things, all the other emotions, all the hard work, people that gave me a shot racing quarter midgets, midgets, Sprint cars, Silver Crown cars, I have to thank everybody, including the fans.
Q. Every sport has coaches or players who don't win the derby or the series or this or that. How important was it for you to finally win at Daytona? If you didn't win, what would that mean to your career?
ROGER PENSKE: I would have come back next year and tried again (smiling).
It was special for me. Obviously we've tried for many years. We've had great drivers. We've been very close many years. But, again, we never executed at the end, and I think this was a team effort. As Ryan said, he drove a masterful race.
But, you know, I thank Kurt, too. As Ryan said, he could have got in the middle of it. He pushed us, you know, to victory. To me that's important. It could be the other way next year or at the next race.
Awful important that we can say we have a big team, as you know, very important.
Q. Roger, can you compare this to winning an Indy 500? Also, I understand Mr. Nardelli offered a $1 million to any Dodge team that could pull off the win. What are you going to do with the money?
ROGER PENSKE: We're going to spend it to make the cars go faster, I'm sure that'll be the first thing we'll so. It was great. Bob Nardelli and I go back when I was at the Home Depot board. To see him as the CEO of Chrysler, he's really put some time and effort and give us people to make this a much better program.
But comparing it to the Indy 500, as Ryan knows, we've been open-wheel guys. Coming down here has been tough. This has got to go to the top of the charts here. To see this win, what I'm going to try to do this year, have them back to back, have one in May, too. That's my real challenge right now.
Q. Roy, obviously you had one of the toughest years of your life last year with your wife being sick, having to step away from the team. Can you talk from an emotional standpoint to go from the lows of last year to the highs of this year, what this all means to you?
ROY McCAULEY: Well, you know, I'll echo Ryan's words: I don't think I have the words for what the last year has been. Exactly a year ago today actually, not to elaborate, but my wife was diagnosed with cancer. You know, I thank Roger Penske for giving me the opportunity to take care of what comes first, which is family. Without Roger, I would not have been able to do that. That just says a lot about the team as a whole again.
But to come from those extraordinary lows and go through a lot of successful medical procedures in her case to get her on the road to recovery. You know, when we sat down and talked at the end of last fall, they asked if I would be willing to take over the 12 car. We had to have a serious talk and say, Okay, we're going to beat this, and we are beating this, and we're not going to let cancer dictate the rest of our lives.
So we decided that we needed to go for it, take over the job and run the 12 and try and put Ryan in Victory Lane and Penske Racing in Victory Lane as often as we could. I give my wife a lot of credit. She's kind of my rock with wings, if you want to call it that.
It means a lot to me to come back and stand in Victory Lane with Ryan, because the last time I was his crew chief we stood in Victory Lane again. It's just an emotional rollercoaster, and it's nice to be on the top of it right now.
KERRY THARP: Thank you, Roy. We'll release you to the garage. Congratulations.
ROY McCAULEY: Thank you.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for either Roger or Ryan.
Q. Roger, I want to hear your thoughts about Sam Hornish's performance today?
ROGER PENSKE: I would say that I was really surprised, but I was confident when we made the decision to bring him in to be our third car. I know Ryan and Kurt have worked with him a lot over the last week, the tests here, then in Vegas, then in California. But he drove a masterful race. He was working with the teammates.
I think he's gonna be a real great team player here. To finish 15th in his first race, stay out of trouble, I was amazed. I know the team was excited. Certainly you got to take a chance. We started with Ryan in what we called an ABC program, ARCA, Busch, and Cup.
We're sitting here at the Daytona 500 victory table. Hopefully we can do the same thing with Sam someday.
Q. Ryan, when you're coming off two the last lap, you see Tony go low, you must have been dumbfounded. What were you thinking right then the next two or three seconds?
RYAN NEWMAN: I know Tony was mirror driving. I was doing the same thing. Tony saw his teammate coming. Obviously you want that push. You want that push from your teammate versus anybody else. I was going to do what I had to to shuck and jibe him there to make a rundown the back straightaway.
You're right. He opened the door. The seas parted. Like I said, Kurt was the push from heaven that made it all happen. I have to thank Kurt first and foremost. But, you know, Tony was very much a sportsman. He could have made that Home Depot Dodge extremely wide, and he chose to race.
Q. Could you both comment on Roy's situation and what it means to be reunited with him, just what the last year has been like trying to support him through his tough time.
RYAN NEWMAN: I would say that Roy's situation was as tough as I think anybody could probably go through. I was really tight with Roy even when he was crew chief for Kurt in the start of '06.
I did my best to try to keep him around to be the crew chief on the Busch team in '06. He had a great opportunity to move up when Rusty left and Kurt came.
Everything came back together for us where Roy and I -- we have very similar backgrounds. Both of our dads used to own auto repair shops. He was born and raised in Maryland. I was born and raised in Indiana. Our lives kind of shadowed each other just with maybe a seven-year delay or whatever it is, four-year delay. It's really awesome. We think a lot alike. We act a lot alike. He's a great guy.
What his wife went through, you know, my wife is very close with Amy, his wife. They did a lot of things together when we did our foundation efforts with the animals. She actually owned the marketing company. We stayed in very close contact with Amy and Roy through that ordeal. Happy to say that Amy is on the mend.
Q. When you woke up this morning, what did you think your chances were of winning this race?
RYAN NEWMAN: Really good. I honestly did.
RYAN NEWMAN: It happens to you no matter what you do, what sport you're in. I had people come up to me and say, Today's your day. I can feel it. I know it. And you want to say, yeah, I feel it, too. You kind of want to go with the flow.
So many things could have happened and taken us out of it. But I felt that we had a car that was capable of winning with the ALLTEL Dodge. You know, I felt that way throughout all practices. We cut our practice short yesterday just to be conservative. You know, like I said, all the moons aligned. It happened. It happened right.
Q. Roger, if you could speak a little bit to what a team player Kurt Busch has been in all this. He went along with the decision to swap points, give his points to Sam Hornish. That worked out very well here. Then he goes and gives Ryan the push that he needed to win the Daytona 500. Talk about the team player mentality Kurt showed throughout this situation.
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think we started this season with all three drivers, all three crew chiefs, the engineering folks together and said, Look, we got to make this one effort. You know, certainly when Kurt stepped back, we moved the points to Sam, obviously there was a lot of discussion about that.
But what people don't realize, we gave our points to the Waltrip team two years ago. The good news was that Sam drove his way into the race and Jarret got in the race, so that made me feel good.
But I think Kurt and Ryan are maybe different. They do different things Monday through Friday. But I can tell you now at the racetrack, the three drivers get together after every practice, and it's made a huge difference, I think, in communication and obviously on the racetrack.
If you can't win yourself, you want your teammate to win. I've always said, we win as a team and we lose as a team.
Q. Roger, was the move to North Carolina, consolidating the team, aimed more specifically at trying to get more success in NASCAR?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think when you have -- we had Penske Racing North and Penske Racing South. That always bothered me. I wanted to have one Penske Racing. Getting together with Don, we decided we had this opportunity to get this big shop and we could put all the disciplines under one roof.
We've has a lot of crosspollinization. We moved crew members from the different disciplines. I think it's made a huge difference. We got one location, one set of people that manage it. We get the benefit, you know, of the experience that we have.
To me, I think it was the right move because our sponsors like it. The fans like it. We've opened up our shop with our fan walk to the fans that come in. I get a number of people down here today that said, Boy, we love going to your shop. That makes us feel good.
I think Ryan will say that your relationship with Kurt has made a big difference for him. He really wants that, too. He came down to the winner's circle crying when he saw that Ryan won, because he knew how much it meant. And the fact that he could make a big difference in that victory I think is special to him and certainly you.
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, I was looking forward to him coming down 'cause, I mean, you can't do it without a team, and you can't do it without teammates sometimes. Like I said, everything aligned itself so Kurt could help push me. I'm just grateful for that.
Q. Ryan, it's funny you said Tony and The Home Depot Dodge.
RYAN NEWMAN: Did I say that?
RYAN NEWMAN: How about that. I was dodging him, that's all (smiling).
Q. Could both of you address what's changed with Dodge since Dodge finished six out of the top eight today?
RYAN NEWMAN: We got a different situation with this car at this racetrack. I think that's part of it. I think our Penske/Jasper engine did a great job. That made up for two of the six. That's a lot in itself.
Just when you're trying to run wide open, the horsepower underneath the hood makes a big difference when the cars are similar. Outside of that, it's probably a part just racing.
Q. Roger, going into this race all the talk was about the Hendrick teams and the Toyota teams. In the open-wheel world, you're really the standard that everybody aims for. You're the Hendrick and the Toyota of the open-wheel world. How did that affect you in the way you discussed the situation coming into this race with your teams, and does this kind of give you a step in the right direction so you can now consider yourself to be headed in that direction, that you can be considered in the same breath with Hendrick and Gibbs and RCR?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, obviously, when you think of Rick's team and RCR, Gibbs, these are world-class teams that have won this race many times. We wouldn't be here if we didn't think we could win, I can tell you that. Every year we've been here, we've been close.
I think this year we were confident. A lot of things had come together. To me, we got a long way to go before we can sit at the table with those guys, but we're coming close.
Q. Roger, many years ago when I was a fan and not a writer of this sport, I remember when you were here with Bobby Allison, winning at Riverside with Mark Donahue, you were very gracious in talking about how much more difficult winning at NASCAR was than you thought. You haven't won a championship, but winning the biggest race after so many Indy 500s, how important was this to settle that score for you personally as one of the leading figures in international motorsports?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I can tell you that you needed to win this race to get in that class, and we did that. Certainly our wins at Indy have been important to us. But there is no question when you run 35 or 36 races a year with the tight competition, the way this sport has been developed by the France family, it's tough.
I don't think it's any easier this year than it was last year. If you can get in and you can race with these guys, I love it. I come to the races. I've been to a lot of races obviously. We've won a lot.
To me, to come and have the opportunity to win, which we have here, then to be able to execute, is certainly special. As I said earlier, this goes to the top of the charts for victories for Penske Racing.
Q. Ryan, when you're coming down the backstretch, you have Kurt Busch underneath you, half a lap to go for the Daytona 500. Is there a moment where you have to push the thoughts of winning the 500 out of your head to finish the job? Talk about that inner struggle. Do you have time to think about that?
RYAN NEWMAN: My dad was spotting for me. I could hear the tears dripping going down the back straightaway over the radio. He was emotional, as he always is. Rightfully so. He's put so much effort into making me a race car driver and the person that I am. My mother, as well.
But to listen to him, I knew I had a really good push from Kurt. I knew when Kurt pushed me that he was locked in. Granted, if we had the opportunity at the start/finish line, I would have raced him like I raced anybody else. But he did a great job.
It was just awesome. I mean, I got that tingly feeling. You only get that in certain things, you know what I mean (smiling)? I didn't get it there; just down my back (smiling). Everybody's toes curl two ways (winking).
Q. Roger, when did you first realize the talent that Ryan had? Who first gave you the indication that this kid could someday be a good racer for you?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, we really had a friend that used to follow the open-wheel series. You know how people give you a brochure on a young driver? I had gotten this brochure. I went to Don and I said, Look, I think this guy has some real opportunity.
I remember staying a couple times and watching him run his car at Nazareth. You know, Ryan had the technology background. His family and dad were behind it. We took a chance.
But at the end of the day we've been consistent. He's won a lot of races. We never got all the way to where we needed to be. But I think this didn't happen overnight. The same thing as we brought Sam in here. You just can't go out and pick the top driver.
As I told Sam, I said, You know, I can't hire Chad Knaus for you as a crew chief, so don't count on it. We've got to build. That's certainly what we did.
Certainly Roy's relationship with Ryan has been outstanding. All the people on the team, Don Miller obviously who was my partner for many, many years, made a huge difference in Ryan's career over the last several years. I want to thank him again for all that he's done.
Q. When did you see your dad first after you got out of the car, and what did he say to you or do when you saw him?
RYAN NEWMAN: When I was in Victory Lane, I just finished up the interview, he just told me he loved me, he was proud of me, and I gave it right back to him. He was extremely emotional. We gave each other a big hug. He went on to talk to everybody else (smiling). Talked to my mom on the phone. She was an absolute mess. Don Miller and some other people. One of my old Silver Crown car owners actually.
It's amazing. I'm sure my mailbox is four times full now.
Q. Kind of an unusual question: Do you remember the last time you got a speeding ticket and how fast you were going?
RYAN NEWMAN: Let me think about this. Yes, I do. I was driving my 1957 T Bird. I pulled out of my driveway; the speed limit is 45. It's downhill. He clocked me at 60. We're talking like three-quarters of a mile here.
He pulled me over in my '57 T Bird with my wife. I rolled down the window. He came down and said, Still runs pretty good, huh? I said, Yeah. What do you say to that? Goes back to his car, came back, and he give gave me a ticket.
Q. Did he know who you were?
RYAN NEWMAN: I wish I knew who he was right now. It was one of those deals where it doesn't matter.
Q. Roger, can you speak to your expectations coming into Speedweeks versus the reality of six Dodges in the top eight and your expectations going to California and Vegas with this car?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, again, we felt we had a good test here. We knew we had a lot more power that we could bring to the race. That's what we did in the reliability. This is a horsepower track. I think that Ryan came back and Kurt and even Sam and felt we had pretty good cars. We learned a lot.
But, again, it was execution today. And most important, reliability, which we didn't have last year. Ryan missed a couple of wins because of reliability.
But I think as we go forward, this will give our team a lot of momentum. But I can tell you this, we're going to line up with everybody else next week in California. I don't think because you won the Daytona 500 they give you an extra lap ahead of the field.
Q. Ryan, a couple of times it looked like you were going to win the race, then something else would happen. Talk about the challenges, how you kept your mind focused so you didn't get frustrated during those points to come back to win.
RYAN NEWMAN: My car actually wasn't ideal out front. I was on the loose side for most of the runs. The last run we tightened it up, got it right. Roy did a great job. Guessing my voice feedback as far as how far to adjust the car.
When I was out front I was just way loose, and that's why I dropped back there. When I was running third, I fell back to fifth, actually lost the lead draft. Giving it up. Man, I can't afford to crash it now. I got too good a car. Let's work on it. I sacrificed third place for running sixth at the time.
It came back around once we got the cautions. Roy did a great job with the guys in the pits adjusting the car, getting me out. And I was worried when those guys came down, the 20 and the 18, when they cut off. I was worried they were going to have better tires, and they did.
But we had the track position and it paid off. They had to really run their cars hard to get back up front.
Q. I know you've talked about this before, but just why did you go to college, and did that help you at all today in any way?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I think my decisions might have been a little bit better. I always said that college taught me two things: It was time management and problem solving. Those are the two things that everybody deals with in everyday life. I think everybody learns that at college, if you get your diploma, no matter what you get your diploma in.
I can't sit here and say I won the Daytona 500 because I'm a vehicle structural engineer, but I'd say it definitely helped.
Q. Ryan, all week long I'm sure watching TV or reading or whatnot, all anybody talked about was Toyota, Gibbs, Hendrick, Chevrolet.
RYAN NEWMAN: Junior.
Q. Junior. Having the confidence that you had, you said you felt really good about your car, your team, whatnot. Do you just sit back and kind of grin and say, Good, I got 'em where I want 'em, they're not talking about me, we can do this without any pressure?
RYAN NEWMAN: No, the pressure doesn't change anything. I've been on both sides of that. I don't think it affects the way I drive or the team's performance.
I would definitely say, yeah, you're right. There was a lot of talk about Toyota. There was a lot of talk about Hendrick, the strengths that they had.
I thought that we were extremely competitive in the Gatorade Duel on Thursday. Had a winning race car, just didn't get a chance to show it on that last restart.
I thought that we were capable of beating half the field after Thursday. I didn't know what the guys were going to have. I thought 8 team was extremely strong today. He was stout.
I think the 20 gave up a little bit. He played patience, a little cat and rabbit there. He definitely obviously showed up when he needed to.
Either way, I don't look back after it and say, Hey, man, we just beat those guys. It was a team effort on our part to beat everybody. And most importantly, we didn't beat ourselves.
Q. Ryan, it happens occasionally, but not a lot, that a guy wins this race only leading a handful of laps. What were you thinking during most of the night when you were mired back in that 12th to 20th? Did you imagine you could do what you did all night long?
RYAN NEWMAN: In a way, yeah. I mean, I knew that we struggled for grip at the start of the race. We fell back. I think we fell back to like 18th or 19th at one point there. I watched the scoring pylon count the laps down. I knew where I needed to be at a certain time.
Fortunately, the way strategy worked out, the way Roy called the shots, the car that we had with ALLTEL Dodge, we were capable of being in the right place at the right time.
Yeah, there was doubt in my mind at the start of the race. Again, going back to what I felt on Thursday, I knew the car was capable of beating at least half of them. Just keep working with it, and we did.
Q. You talked about coming here 15 years ago and seeing the Seagraves Tower. How many times have you come to Daytona as a fan and when was the first time?
RYAN NEWMAN: I remember my dad pulling me out of middle school. If you do the math...
I'm not exactly sure of the year, maybe '90, '91, something like that. The whole deal with coming down here, my grandfather passed away. Instead of them coming down, we came down, my dad and I, with my aunt and uncle. We met them down here. We sat up in the Seagraves Tower, too. They let us stay at their motel we went to the New Smyrna every night ate peanuts and watched modifieds run.
It was just awesome to be able to look at the Seagraves section after the checkered flags fell and realize where you've been and where you are. There's just so much honor that goes along with it. It will take a long time for it to set in.
Q. Ryan, five years ago you left here like a highlight reel from your crash. Tomorrow morning you may be more famous than Wayne Knight. How does that feel? More television commercials in your future?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, they got their mileage out of that crash. Obviously it was pretty spectacular. I feel blessed to be able to walk away from it.
I just can't wait to see how everything gets printed and played and taped and live shots and things like that. But just to be a part of it, just to feel it, just to see it, and to be sitting up here with Roger Penske knowing we won the 50th annual Daytona 500 is just awesome.
Q. Is your mom here? We talked to DeLana Harvick last year after Kevin won. She said that NASCAR always tells the drivers to bring a suit and be prepared to go to New York. You're not normally a suit kind of guy. Did you pack one?
RYAN NEWMAN: My mom stayed home. She just spent some time with some friends out in Phoenix. One of our neighbor's husband passed away. She did the right thing, spent some time with her. Been traveling a lot. Had the opportunity to stay home and visit with my sister and her two grandbabies.
So she was bawling in Victory Lane when I talked to her. I had to talk to her later because I couldn't understand a word she was saying.
What was the second question? Oh, the suit.
Oh, I was actually prepared for both. I had my clothes sitting out ready to go on the airplane, on my bed, in my bus. I was ready to go home if we had to go home. I figured if I didn't have my stuff ready we wouldn't do it. I'm kind of backwards and opposite when it comes to that stuff, so I don't have a suit with me. But I'm sure that the plane can stop someplace in New York on the way.
Q. You won $1.5 million. I think you can afford a suit now.
RYAN NEWMAN: It's not about affording it, it's just like wearing it. I don't necessarily like wearing 'em.
Q. When you grew up in Indiana, did you always dream your biggest moment would come at Indianapolis?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I'd hope to. I mean, we had great runs at Indianapolis back in '03 and '04. It was just a place we went to. We were always hooked up. The car was fast. We've had poor finishes the last couple years there.
We hopefully can get back on the freight train to speed there and have a better run at it. I know a lot of great things happen after you win the Daytona 500. A lot of history is based around stat-wise winning the Daytona 500, then going on to win the championship. That would just be a dream come true.
Q. Ryan, can you describe what the push felt like on the backstretch? Has there been anything that stood out about this week in the sense of all the history that's been brought up? Anybody you enjoyed seeing or anybody you got to talk to, with former winners?
RYAN NEWMAN: The push itself, Kurt and I talked yesterday after practice. We discussed, along with Sam, how hard it was to actually push here compared to Talladega. Talladega, it was cake to push each other around for the entire lap. Here, even down the straightaways, it could be pretty iffy.
There were times tonight where I got pushes. I was like, Man, ease off a little bit. I'm on the floor here. You know, Kurt did a great job holding me straight, which makes a difference. You can wiggle around and shake the guy in front of you loose. He did a great job with it.
What was the second part again?
Q. Just about the history.
RYAN NEWMAN: The history, yeah. Like I said, sitting in the drivers meeting, the drivers that were up there, A.J. Foyt, Junior Johnson, even Pete Hamilton, guys I'd never seen before, I just heard of. I got their die cast at home. The little die cast of the wing cars, I've got them all. To see those guys in person, to see Mario Andretti sitting elbow to elbow with A.J. Foyt, picturing those guys, the way they used to run, the dirt miles, things like that, it's all part of it.
I felt that when Ken Schrader came up and gave me a hug in Victory Lane. Never said a word, just gave me a hug and walked off. I know how much he appreciates the history of the sport. That said a lot for him there, as well.
Q. This is a quote about you from Buddy Baker. He's as close to a third son as I've ever had. I don't have a record that I wouldn't like to see him break. Buddy had his share of his dry spells during his career. I wonder if he played any role in helping you cope with yours?
RYAN NEWMAN: Absolutely. Buddy was my teacher when I first started at Penske Racing in the ARCA series. Even the Busch and Cup Series. We used to go to every test together. He would ride along. We'd get in the rental car, drive around the racetrack the right way.
We'd turn around and drive around the racetrack the wrong way, gives you different vantage points. He likes to let you see what you can do coming off the corners and the way you enter the corners.
He was a great friend. He was a neighbor. We lived on the lake together. Now we're living up in Statesville. Either way, he's an awesome guy. It's really an honorable, as well. My dad and Buddy hit it off really well, even when they were spotting together. They spent a couple nights this week this week, this past weekend, eating dinner together and hanging out.
That's just awesome. I mean, to know that I was sitting in the Seagrave Tower and I watched Buddy Baker running in the Crisco car, and to see now my dad going out to dinner with him and see him being honored in the 50th running of the Daytona 500, it's just a dream come true, as well.
Q. One of the things I've noticed in your talking here, the one common thread is you keep going back about family. You went through some rough times the last couple years, on and off the track. How much more satisfying is it to enjoy this win with the family but also they were there to help you not only in your bad times but Roy's bad times as well?
RYAN NEWMAN: Absolutely. My family was my crew growing up racing in quarter midgets and midgets, even the Silver Crown series. Up till '97 was when I got a full-time ride with somebody else. They were still part of the crew, they weren't responsible for getting into the racetrack.
My sister, I talked to her on the phone. She's my biggest critic. She had a few choice words. She told that she didn't think I could actually even do it on a restrictor plate, restrictor plate track.
So, it was, you know, I guess to prove my sister wrong either way is cool at the same time.
Q. Ryan, you broke an 81-race winless drought. Can you talk about what you have gone through since your last win in '05. A lot of times last year it looked like you were going to do it. What's it like?
RYAN NEWMAN: It was tough last year knowing that we were that close so many times. Going back to even Charlotte, when the track bar mount broke. It's like, Man, what do you got to do? I've told a few people, I just hope when I get back to Victory Lane it's a big one. Honestly, actually it was.
It's great to do it as a team, to have a rebounding year like we did last year. Everybody, Michael Nelson, the guys on the team that helped get the team back on pace, you know, they're here today, too. That's awesome. Just all the hard work and the effort that all the Penske organization puts into it, it's all played out tonight.
Q. Is it something special for you to have the only gold trophy in the 500?
RYAN NEWMAN: I just assumed they were all gold. I didn't really pay attention to it. It's neat. It's awesome. We both get one, Roger?
ROGER PENSKE: I hope so.
RYAN NEWMAN: I hope so. Me, too (laughter).
No, it's a team win. It's an organizational win. I'm just happy to see it and touch it and feel it. I mean, I drove by Daytona, U.S.A. and saw the statute of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. with that trophy in his hand, and that meant a lot to me. I won't have a statute made of me today, but hopefully that is something I can look forward to.
Q. How did you feel tonight putting your hands and feet in the concrete?
RYAN NEWMAN: That was pretty wild. The crazy part was you'd only do your right foot and then both hands. I guess they assume the left foot does nothing to get you in Victory Lane around here.
It was pretty cool. That's the first time I've ever done it, so I'm not sure where my casting is going. I'm not sure if I get a Walk of Fame or a square on a sidewalk someplace, but it was definitely cool.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations. Great performance tonight.
ROGER PENSKE: Thank you.
RYAN NEWMAN: Thank you.
End of FastScripts