Well it’s about time! After 50 years in racing, the 71 year old Roger Penske has won at Daytona after 23 tries. His driver, Ryan Newman couldn’t be caught in the final lap due to some elegant teamwork between Newman and Kurt Busch. Daytona has been elusive for Penske, although he has won the Indianapolis 500 fourteen times as an owner.
It was a close race until the last lap. Newman hadn’t won in 81 races in the last two years, so it was sweet victory for him as well as Penske. Tony Stewart, the bad guy of NASCAR who sometimes gets disciplined and sometimes gets into fist fights, involuntarily ceded the lead in the last lap.
The victory was a fitting tribute to both Penske and to the 50th running of the Daytona 500, where last year the outcome also went down to the last lap. Stewart was seeking his first victory at Daytona after ten attempts. Stewart pulled down low on the track in the final lap but got outflanked by Newman’s teammate Kurt Busch. Both Penske cars rolled over the top of Stewart and boxed him in. Newman pulled ahead with Busch in second and Stewart in third.
The win earns Penske a $1 million bonus as the first Dodge to win at Daytona since 2001. Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler promised the bonus if a Dodge car won the race.