The Daytona 500 is known as one of the premier NASCAR events. It has always been a venue of victory, disappointment and thrilling racing, and Sunday was no different. A victory for Roger Penske, fourteen time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and his team at the Daytona 500 had eluded them for twenty four years. But through the determination and teamwork of Penske Dodge drivers, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman, they took first and second place, with Ryan Newman crossing the finish line first.
It was just another reminder that nothing is cast in stone and that anything is possible in racing, even in the last lap of a race. For most spectators and racing enthusiasts, the Daytona 500 was clear cut. After winning most of the events at the Speed Weeks, it seemed that the battle for the winning position would be between the Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolets and the Joe Gibbs’ Toyotas. And for a while, right up until lap 199, it seemed certain that Tony Steward would win, especially after taking the white flag.
But the Penske Dodge drivers were not prepared to give up and stayed right on top of Steward. While Steward was trying to keep both Busch and Newman at bay, Kurt Busch saw an opportunity for his team and led Steward to believe that he was going hard into the inside. As Steward dropped low to block Busch, both Penske drivers overtook him on the top, giving Ryan Newman the chance to take the win for the Penske team.
Both Newman and Busch have put the win down to teamwork and seeing it as a team victory and not as an individual victory. Ryan Newman winning the Daytona 500 could not have been a more memorable day for Roger Penske, as it was not only a fiftieth celebration for the racing event, but a first win of the Daytona 500 for Penske.
Racing has always been an unpredictable sport, and while the Penske team celebrated, others were nursing their loss and looking towards the next race to improve their cars and their strategies. And in true racing spirit, Rick Hendrick ensured that he was the first in Victory Lane to extend a hand of sincere congratulations to Roger Penske.