CHEVY NSCS AT DAYTONA MEDIA DAY: Jamie McMurray Press Conf Transcript

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
MEDIA DAY
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 16, 2016

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S/CESSNA CHEVROLET SS met with members of the media during NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. Full Transcript:

ON RACING AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY:

“I’ve liked coming here since I was kid racing Go-Karts. I can remember with my mom and dad getting up at 4 in the morning from our hotel to park out in front of the old speedway because they would line-up like a thousand Go-Kart trucks and trailers and you might wait two or three hours in line for all the people to get in the garage. So, this has been a fun race track since I was a kid.

“It’s been a good track for me but it has been six years. I love reading Twitter until that pops-up and it says six years ago today and I think man that was a long time ago. I like coming here. Honestly it’s one of the cooler parts of winning the 500 is that every time you get introduced, that’s something that even if you are not a NASCAR fan, and you know nothing about NASCAR, you know about the Daytona 500. And when someone knows that you’ve won that, you kind of automatically have something to talk about and they’re interested.”

ON THE DIGITAL DASH

“The dash, on the track, was not a big deal to me at all because you can set that up for like an analog gauge or a digital readout. You can set it up many different ways. The biggest difference to me was pit road. And the way the sequence of lights work is different than the spec-type gauges that we were using last year. So, the Unlimited was a good learning experience for me. What I thought I was going to like, I did not like, on pit road. So we’re going to try something different for the Duel, and hopefully by the time the 500 gets here we’ll have that ironed-out. But, actually, on the track it wasn’t that big of a deal.

“I didn’t have an issue with the response of the lights. It was more the procedure of the way the lights come on. The old gauge had seven lights on it and you have like seven yellows before the first green and seven green before the first red. And everyone did it differently on whether they ran seven green or two reds, whatever you want to do for pit road speed. But the way that this gauge worked, it’s just different. And it’s not worse. I think if we’d had this first, then went to the other way, you would have said well, I liked the old way better. You’re just used to it.

“But there are a lot of options, which is nice, with the way you can set the lights up or the warnings and everything that go with it. We sat at the shop for hours and I went over what I thought I was going to like and then when we did pit road practice for the Unlimited, I thought oh, that’s perfect. And then the first pit stop in the race and I’m like, this sucks. I don’t know why I picked this. At one point I’m like pretty sure I was speeding right there, but I don’t know. Until you get to have that, you don’t know.

“So, we didn’t have any type of a warning when it was below pit road speed. The way I used to do it is that if you were within 5 mph of getting to pit road speed, it would start lighting up yellow lights. And then the first green would not light up until you got to pit road speed. And then my seventh green would be the 4.5 mph over, and one red would be speeding. And the way we had it structured is there are nine lights on this first off, and we were only going to use six of the green lights to be pit road speed. One red would be speeding.

“The problem was I couldn’t distinguish on the dash by looking at pit road and then looking back down, where the sixth light was. I was like trying to count over while I’m on pit road. Little things like that you think you could do, but I couldn’t.  So, we just had to come up with another plan.”

WITH ALL THE PARTS AND PIECES AND RESOURCES THIS TEAM HAS, DOES IT SURPRISE YOU IT HASN’T HAD MORE SUCCESS?

“Well, I think the surprise to me comes from the success that we had in 2010 and how good our intermediate program was, to how 2011, 2012, with the rules change, it just didn’t work out. The thing that I feel like our team has going for it right now is that we went through years of re-building the organization and the people that work there and how we structure everything in the shop, and we haven’t had to go through that for a couple of years. We maybe have added a couple of people, but you haven’t completely re-done the engineering group or the management side of that. It’s been fairly consistent. And the group of people that we have there, I feel like, have done a really good job of hiring the right people to come in and make it better. 2014, honestly, I thought our intermediate program was better than it was in 2010 when we won a few of those races. We had seconds, thirds, fifths; we didn’t have wins, other than when I won the All-Star race, on an intermediate track. You look back at that, and at the end of the year we were disappointed in 2014. But the reality is that we actually ran better than we did in 2010. We just didn’t win any races.

“So, last year, I thought our intermediate program was really going to be strong, and it wasn’t. We got behind. There were numerous rules changes with wanting to run the low downforce or the high drag. And our group, though we have a lot of resources, when you looked at a Gibbs or a Hendrick, they dedicated people to developing the high drag package or the low downforce; where we were committed to just what our team was right on the verge of making the Chase and you want to run well in the Chase. So if we go and we try to develop two different packages, you need to put all your effort into the Chase. So, that’s what we did. So, I don’t think disappointed is the right word.

“You’re just trying to make the most of what you have and I feel like we have done a really good job in the off-season of working on our intermediate program. We worked a little bit on the speedway program and though we qualified 23rd and 25th, which doesn’t sound good, we were 35th at Talladega last year in this type of qualifying. So, we made huge gains there. The 24 car has been on the pole I think at every plate race for the last nine years or something, right? Obviously they have something going on over there that’s really good. But we worked hard on our intermediate program this off-season and I look forward to getting to Atlanta to kind of see where we stack up. You can go to the wind tunnel and make it better and better and better, but you just don’t know in relation to everyone else, where you’re at.”

INAUDIBLE (ON THE TEAM CHARTER)

“I told you that I was on the driver council. I am not this year. So, I don’t know. We had a meeting. NASCAR held a driver’s meeting the other day and I have a little bit of an insight to that because Rob (Kauffman) is on our team and we fly together and so he’s talked to me a little bit about it. But they did a really nice job, I thought, in our meeting the other day of kind of laying it out and talking us through the process and how they got to the point where they are. Maybe it made a little bit more sense to me because I heard Rob’s side and then I heard their side and I thought okay, I’m kind of putting it all together. But, they did a good job of explaining all that to us.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT MONEY DISTRIBUTION, THE PURSE, ETC.?

“Well, listen, yeah; every driver has a concern if you’re paid based on the purse, right? That’s how most contracts were structured is that you get a salary and you get paid based on the purse; and so, that structuring changed, right? It’s all for the better but everyone’s contracts has to be re-looked-at and re-worked. From what I know, from talking to the drivers and our team and listening to what other teams are saying, like all the owners are really fair in making that right, it just takes a different contract than what we had.”

DID YOUR DRIVER COUNCIL TERM END?

“Yeah, I don’t know 100 percent when it ended; I would say, I think, in January is when we did our re-vote. And so they just had a meeting, I don’t know, a few weeks ago; and I wasn’t a part of it. So I was like okay, well obviously the new members have come into effect.  Actually, I’ll tell you how I knew. It’s because we’re on a group meet chat and I was removed from it (laughs); and I’m like oh, I’m no longer a part of that.”

WHEN YOU WON THE DAYTONA 500, WHAT WAS THAT FINAL LAP LIKE? DO YOU REMEMBER EVERYTHING THAT WENT ON?

“I can remember coming off Turn 4, extremely clear, just perfect. But as far as the rest of the day, I don’t really remember any of it. I wish that we all had the ability or the power to rewind days like that, so you could enjoy them a little bit more. The Daytona 500 is somewhat of a stressful day for all of us. There’s a ton of sponsor commitments leading up to that, the night before, the day of; there’s just a lot going on. You’re a little bit uptight anyway because of it being the biggest race of the year. The Daytona 500, if you win that, it takes five weeks to fall out of the top 10 in points if you run horrible. If you crash on lap 1, it takes five weeks of running great to get back into the points. So, to start the season off with a good run here is huge; and so there’s a lot of pressure that goes into that.”

BUT YOU REALLY DON’T REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT THE WIN?

‘This is what I remember: I remember this was the old surface. Slick. Handling was important. And I remember giving the No. 16 car the bottom off Turn 4, I believe coming to the white (flag) and being okay with that because I wanted to be on the outside. I got a big push from somebody, going into Turn 1. I was leading off Turn 2. And I remember the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) made it three-wide right in the row or two behind me. And that was really good for me because it killed all the momentum from everybody else and then he didn’t have enough momentum off Turn 4 to pass me. But yeah, I remember off of Turn 4 very clear because I remember looking in the mirror, and everyone standing here has done this, where you are on the Interstate and you want to change lanes and you look in your mirror and you’re trying to figure out how fast the car in the fast lane is coming, and you make a decision there of thinking you can get out without disrupting traffic or that car is coming really fast. And the whole time off Turn 4, I’m looking in my mirror and you’re trying to figure out is that car coming or do I need to block?  And I just remember I’m like he doesn’t have enough of a run to get beside me before the checkered flag.

“And then I think the No. 88 ran into me actually, after I crossed the line and about wrecked me; not on purpose, but I think he’s done that before like ‘good job’ or whatever and I wasn’t ready for it because I was so excited. That’s what I remember after the checkered flag.”

DO YOU THINK IT’S UNFAIR SOMETIMES THAT CHIP GANASSI’S NASCAR GETS COMPARED TO THE SUCCESS OF HIS OTHER RACING TEAMS?

“I don’t think that unfair, no. It is what it is. Look, IndyCar racing is really hard to run in the Top 5, but the depth of the field is not even close to what it is in NASCAR. So no; I don’t think that’s unfair. I think when you look at IndyCar racing or Sportscar racing, the depths of the field are not comparable.”

THE TWO BIG ONES OVER HERE ARE DAYTONA AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP. EVERYBODY WANTS TO WIN BOTH OF THEM. BUT, IF YOU HAVE ONE AND MAYBE NOT THE OTHER, DOES IT TAKE SOME OF THE EDGE OFF NOT HAVING THE OTHER? DO YOU NEED TO HAVE BOTH TO HAVE COMPLETENESS?  OR, WHEN YOU HAVE ONE, DO YOU THINK EH, I DID A PRETTY GOOD JOB?

“Yeah, I actually answered this question over there because somebody asked me what would you rather have, a championship or a Daytona 500 win. And I said if you have a championship and not a Daytona 500, then that’s probably more important to you right now. Or, vice versa. I just think that being able to win the Daytona 500 is one thing. A championship is such a longer battle than this race. This is a long race and it’s hard to finish, it’s hard to put yourself in the right position, it’s hard to make the right decisions, and it’s also four hours long. Where, a championship starts here and it doesn’t end until the last lap at Homestead. So, it’s a different battle.”

IN THIS ERA WHERE NASCAR IS GRANTING WAIVERS, YOU ARE THE LAST GUY TO WIN AS A SUBSTITUTE DRIVER. WHAT TYPE OF CHALLENGES DO SUBSTITUTE DRIVERS FACE?

“I think it depends on what car you’re getting in, first off. My situation was unique because the No. 40 car had won a few races that year. I believe they led the championship until four or five races before I got in. I had never won a Truck or a Busch race at the time, so that was a pretty deep pool to get thrown into. But at the same time, if you’re going to be a substitute driver, that’s the car you want to get in. There’s no substitute driver that’s going to get in a car that’s run 25th every week, and win. Maybe at a plate race or a road course on fuel mileage maybe, but if you’re going to be a substitute driver and get in a car, that’s the one that I would want to get in.  The No. 18 car last year would have been a good example. You couldn’t have gotten in a better car than that car last year.”

YOU TALKED ABOUT HOW SOME OF THE DRIVER CONTRACTS NEEDED TO BE TWEAKED WITH THIS NEW SYSTEM, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT’S FAIR FROM A PURSE PERSPECTIVE FOR DRIVERS? HOW DO YOU SEE THAT BEING DIVVIED-UP NOW AMONG NASCAR AND THE OWNERS AND THE DRIVERS?

“It’s fair as long as both parties agree on it, right?  That’s a tough question to answer because you don’t know the circumstances of the contract. I think as long as both parties agree, then, yeah.”

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