Team Preview: Penske Racing

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    After a 2007 season that showed flashes of promise and success, Penske Racing takes an expanded squad into the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship chase.

    Former Indy 500 winner and IRL champion Sam Hornish, Jr. joins Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman to give team owner Roger Penske a three-car assault at winning the 2008 title.

    Busch comes into the new year with a great deal of confidence from his 2007 performance, which saw the former series champion climb back into the role of contender.

    Busch and crew chief Pat Tryson started to gel as the season progressed and the year ended with a berth in the Chase and a seventh-place finish in the final standings.

    "With wins, a pole and a seventh-place finish in the points, we definitely covered all the basics to say that 2007 was a successful year for our Miller Lite Dodge Team," said Busch. "When you look back on the year and take into consideration that we accomplished all that we did with three different crew chiefs, you certainly have to label it a super transitional season for our team."

    "Roy McCauley and Troy Raker definitely deserve so much credit for their contributions during the year, especially considering the adverse and unusual circumstances they were working under," said Busch, who completed his seventh season as a fulltime competitor on the top circuit in stock car racing in 2007. "When we were able to add Pat Tryson as our team leader back in June, it gave us the solid and consistent leadership that our team needed to overcome the obstacles and make the big drive to get into the Chase."

    Newman also enjoyed a better season in 2007 than the one previous when he and the ALLTEL Dodge team struggled.

    Last season, Newman scored seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes en route to a 13th-place finish in the championship point standings.

    A late season surge, in which Newman amassed four top-five finishes in the final seven races of the season, helped him secure the 13th spot and has given the team an added bit of confidence.

    "We definitely have momentum on our side," Newman said. "Any kind of momentum you had, you can take and build on that, and I think we have been building on that with the work around the race shop and different tests during the off-season."

    Veteran crew chief Roy McCauley joins Newman's squad this season and the pair believe they have the ingredients in place for even more success.

    "We didn't get to achieve the things we wanted to last year," Newman said. "I feel like we have some unfinished business, but by all means, Michael left on great terms - he had a great opportunity which was a life-long dream of his.
    "Now, Roy is here, and I think we have a good team and a good program going into 2008."

    Hornish, Jr. follows in the footsteps of recent open wheel drivers making the transition to NASCAR.

    "Our goal as a team is to win the Rookie of the Year title for 2008, plain and simple," said Hornish Jr. "I realize that there is a lot to learn but I feel that we have the elements in place to run well and finish the season in the top-20 in the point standings."

    Hornish, Jr. will have the added benefit of a guaranteed spot in the first five races of the season, thanks to a points switch between his upstart No. 77 Mobil 1 ride and Busch's No. 2 entry.

    Hornish believes a good start to the year will help him achieve his goal of making a successful transition to stock car racing.

    "I see the transition to stock car racing as the next step for me," said Hornish Jr. "I have already accomplished a lot in the IndyCar Series and with Penske Racing. I feel the need to challenge myself further as a driver. Truly successful drivers succeed in more than one series. Capturing Rookie-of-the-Year honors would be the first step toward achieving that type of success."

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