Dodge Wins Daytona 500 and Mauls Competition
They came, they saw and they kicked ass. Dodge Charger not only won the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500 but dominated the top eight positions. Up front, teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch gave Dodge its first ever 1-2 sweep in NASCAR’s premier event at Daytona International Speedway. Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, Reed Sorenson, Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Robby Gordon finished fourth through seventh. The Dodges may have gotten a little more incentive race day morning as Chrysler Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli met with team owners and offered a $1 million bonus for 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 dramatic 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.”
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 last 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.”