Charlotte II: Winning team press conference

Charlotte Motor Speedway October 16, 2010 An Interview With: JAMIE McMURRAY - Winner KEVIN MANION - Crew chief KERRY THARP: We have in tonight's Bank of America 500 here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, our race winner Jamie McMurray. He drives...

Charlotte Motor Speedway
October 16, 2010

An Interview With:
JAMIE McMURRAY - Winner
KEVIN MANION - Crew chief

KERRY THARP: We have in tonight's Bank of America 500 here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, our race winner Jamie McMurray. He drives the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boat Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi. This is his third win of 2010, his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his second victory here at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

And Jamie, I know that tonight had to be very, very sweet for you.

JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, absolutely. After coming so close in the 600 earlier in the season, I really felt like anything less than winning this weekend would have been disappointing. We had such a great car in the spring, and it just wasn't good enough on the short run. And tonight it was very similar to that, and as I was catching Kyle towards the end of the race, I thought as long as the caution came out, I could catch him, but I wasn't sure if I was going to have enough speed to outrun him in 25 or 30 laps. But man, it was just our night. Our car was unbelievable those last like 25 or 30 laps. It was effortless to drive and it had a lot of speed in it. It was just a really good night for us.

Q: In 2002, different circumstances, you were here for Sterling. To be able to win here now eight years later, was the celebration more intense maybe this time maybe, because in 2002 out of respect for Sterling?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, it's completely different. You know, when I won here in 2002, you're in a situation where I don't know that there's any race car driver wants someone else to get in their car and win, much less a kid that's never -- I had never won on the truck or the Nationwide Series, or the Busch Series at the time.

So I knew that that was hard on Sterling. I knew that, as soon as I get in victory lane, I remember telling myself you need to be very gracious and be respectful to Sterling, because this is hard for him. He's at home with a broken neck.

So you know, and you win with another team, it's not really your team. So tonight is completely different, because you know, this team -- and I talked with Chip about this earlier today about where, you know, his Cup organization was a year ago, and where it is right now and the success that we've had.

And so it's different circumstances. I feel this is my team and it's a team that has been put together over the past 11 months, 12 months, and it's mine. And it's a completely different feeling.

Q: Shortly after the race that was being piped in here, you started talking about Daytona and some of the feelings you had and the power of prayer, but unfortunately got cut off. Could you articulate that again?

JAMIE McMURRAY: I wanted people to understand that sometimes you see people's emotions on TV, and I don't know, I just -- I just wanted it to be understood that after the season that I had, or the last four years I had, I found the power of prayer and that it's something that I really believe in. And when I got to victory lane in Daytona that's what I was thinking about. You know, I was crying, obviously because I was happy, but also because you feel like a prayer has been answered.

And so that is, as a very powerful thing, and it's obviously very emotional when you feel like you -- I don't know, that's a very selfish thing to ask for. Certainly it's not the first thing that I pray about every day. But everyone wants to be successful and you want to do well in life, so when you feel like that's been answered, it's emotional.

And I don't know, I thought about it the last eight or ten laps. I was like, you know, if I win this race, Lord, if you don't throw a caution, is what I said, and I win this race, I'm going to explain to people my feelings and why I felt that way.

And I think that's important. I watch other professional athletes, whether it's bull riders or basketball players or motorcycle riders, you hear them get out and you hear them thank God and talk about the power of prayer, and I just think that that's important for people to understand, and understand why my feelings were the way they were.

And I forgot to thank Sprint and all of the fans in the middle of all that because I got so emotional and tied up in it.

Q: Kyle was disappointed that there was a caution, but you feel like you were going to pass him probably without a caution. Do you think you could have passed him or held him off over those last laps if the race had gone on?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I knew that catching Kyle and passing Kyle would be two different things. But we were very equal in turns one and two, but I was quite a bit quicker than he was in three and four. And I knew if I was going to pass him, I would have to clear him in three and four. I don't know how fast I was catching him, but I felt like I was catching him fairly fast. And there were 30 laps left, and when your car starts going away as quick as his was going away, I felt like I was going to be able to pass him.

You never know. I was disappointed when the caution came out because I thought that was going to take the chance of winning away from me. You know, it's hard, because I mean, for him, he was in the lead and they threw a caution and the next lap he wasn't. I understand why he feels the way he did.

KERRY THARP: Welcome Kevin Manion, crew chief, talk about the win tonight.

KEVIN MANION: Incredible. Back in the spring, with Chip winning the Indy 500 on that day and when he showed up the pit box started rocking in the spring and I told him, we had a really good shot of winning tonight. Coming home second with a late race caution in the spring really made us really want to win this race even more.

Q: Talk about eight years, how have you changed over the eight years? It just seems like you've grown so much from the guy that was in victory lane just that time ago?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Obviously I've grown up a lot in the last eight years. I'm married and expecting a child. My life has changed a lot. I feel like I'm a lot smarter of a racer and I try to put myself in a better position probably than what I did back then.

And I mean, it's -- I don't know, that's a tough question to answer, because you know, you don't realize, you know, how much you don't know, and eight or ten years goes by and you realize what you didn't know then and how much more you know now and how much more you're going to know in ten years from now.

So if I didn't confuse you with all of that; I was trying to make sense. Certainly quite a bit different as a person and a lot different place in my life. And I think probably more than anything is I'm appreciative of the sponsors and of the opportunities that I have right now versus 2002.

Q: On Thursday Jimmie Johnson was in here and expressed the opinion that Kyle Busch was probably the best driver in the garage when it came to restarts. Wondering if you might share that opinion, and how you approach that final restart when you were able to get past him.

JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, my opinion of Kyle, I don't know that he's the best on the restarts. I think Kyle is the best driver in traffic. When he's leading a race, or wherever he's running in the race, he seems to be able to get through traffic better than anybody else, even if he has a tight car or a loose car, he does a better job than anybody else and I noticed that tonight when he was leading and I was running second, he does a really good job. I watch him in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series, he's probably the best at that.

I don't know that I've paid a lot of attention to the restarts, but restarts have all been really good for me. And I don't know why, but I feel like I do a really good job when the tires spin, of not spinning my tires. And it's very hard to discipline yourself when you have 900 horsepower to not continue to push the throttle down till they spin. When they start spinning, you lose a tremendous amount of speed, and it's very hard when you know victory lane is the difference of spinning the tires and not.

You know, I went through turns one and two wide open and I got a little bit of a run on Kyle and I heard the spotter say, "He's still there. He's still there. Clear."

And as soon as I heard "Clear," it's amazing when his front bumper brakes the plane of your rear bumper, how you feel the car lurch forward, because there's so much drag when they are side-drafting you. As soon as I heard the spotter say "clear" and I felt that, that's a pretty good feeling, I promise you.

Q: Just wanted to ask about, the situation that is going on with the Hmiel family this week, how important is this as a morale booster to -- keeping what is going on with Steve and his family, how important is it to keep things up and moving in the shop when there's such a trying time going on with a member of the family?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, certainly the success that we've had this year, Steve Hmiel is a huge part of that and what happened to Shane, I can't imagine the feeling that Steve and his wife had last week with the serious of an accident as what Shane was involved in. I know that's been really tough, and from my side of that, I sent Steve a text and told him, if there's anything I can do, I'll go out of my way to help him and do whatever he needs.

I've tried to give him space, because I know that everyone is probably texting him, and anyone who has had something devastating happen, whether it's good or bad, you know like you're trying to answer all the texts so you're being polite and you honestly wish people would just quit sending them.

So I've tried to give Steve his space, and I have kept up with Shane's progress, whether it's through people at the race shop or Lisa Hmiel's Facebook page, she's been updating that. And certainly his progress looks like it's really good. It seems like it's all good news coming from her Facebook page.

But that was a devastating accident and I know that's really hard on that family, and, you know, Steve has been a huge part of our team's success this year. So we certainly want him back, and want Shane to recover 100%.

Q: Since you guys are not in the Chase field this year, does that kind of give you guys a little bit more freedom in what you're going to do in order to try to put yourselves in a position to win?

KEVIN MANION: That is a good question. We definitely have been experimenting outside of our baseline setup the last couple of weeks, last week in California, this week. Something we are working on. Just haven't perfected it. It did show great promise the other day. So it does definitely give you a little bit more freedom to experiment, make more riskier calls, fuel mileage and so on, so forth.

But it also gives us time at the shop to actually take a breath and say, okay, we didn't make this Chase; all right, it hit. Now, what do we have to do for the next ten races to still race good, but have a little bit of fun, because as you all know, it's a very trying and stressful job, including yourselves, coming in here every week and different venues.

Just a breath of fresh air in lining things up for 2011, maybe ten weeks sooner than the guys concentrating on making a name for themselves at the end of the year.

Q: Do you guys kind of scratch your head a little bit and say, how do they always do this? With Jimmie Johnson particularly tonight, they had a series of things that they had to overcome and yet he still extended his points lead. What do other drivers think of that and how impressive is that to you that that always seems to happen for him?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, certainly what they have been able to do is remarkable. And Jimmie -- those are all really good tracks for him. Actually, every track seems to be a good track for him. (Laughter).

But it seems like the final ten races are just exceptional tracks for the 48 team. And you know what, they just do a better job, it seems like, than the other teams do. And it's amazing to me when they have an average car how they are able to adjust on it and get the car better. The last couple of weeks looking at the 48 car and Happy Hour, I did not think they had been very fast. The car didn't look like it had a lot of speed in it or consistent, but Jimmie is a really good driver and puts himself in position, and it always seems like they make the right decision.

Q: You put together a winning modified with Ryan Newman; is having success in that series and this series, giving you overall confidence as a crew chief that you are kind of doing this thing right? And Jamie, you said you came in second in the 600 and nothing less than winning was going to be good enough and you came back second in Talladega; when you go back in a couple weeks is anything less than winning going to be a disappointment, too?

KEVIN MANION: As far as the ability, it takes great people in your organization to win. It just not a one-man band.

But for winning in the modifieds, that's just fun for us. I couldn't do it without Gary and Russell and a couple of the other guys, and our sponsors.

And far as the Cup side, it's a total team effort. The Indy win, we can chalk up Ryan helping us a lot. They tire tested out there and won. It takes a total team effort all around you, and you are only as good as the people you are working with and the drivers you've got.

But winning races gives you confidence no matter what. So it's a win/win for sure.

Q: I know you were not -- you said it didn't bother you all that much about not making the Chase considering everything you've accomplished this season, but when you look at what you've accomplished, how do you look at, or have you even started looking at next season? Does what you have already done get you really excited about starting off again next season, or do you try to still relish perhaps even some more wins before this season's over?

JAMIE McMURRAY: I really haven't thought about next year. You know, just working on the remainder of this season, and I just -- I don't know, I don't think you should put the cart in front of the horse. You take this one week at a time. And we have so many different kind of racetracks coming up: Like Martinsville next week and Talladega, mile-and-a-half tracks, Phoenix, there's so much different stuff coming up; I really have not put much thought into next season.

I feel really good obviously about our mile-and-a-half stuff. We have a really good package to that and like Bono said, we are testing some other stuff that is a fair amount different, and I think if we can get that to work, then that's probably going to be an advantage for us next season.

So we are kind of working on that, but at the same time, we have got some stuff, really reliable stuff that really doesn't seem to have a lot of speed in it. So working on that right now.

Q: When are you going to be signed for next season and what's the hang up?

JAMIE McMURRAY: I can't remember Chip's exact answer but I think when it's ready to talk about that, I'll talk about that -- just kidding.

We are really close on that. It's not that I don't want to talk about it. It's just there's really not anything to discuss right now, and hopefully it will all be done soon. And when that is, we can kind of talk about it then. I'm not trying to be a butt hole to you, I just don't really have anything to say about it.

KEVIN MANION: It's coming across like that.

JAMIE McMURRAY: Sorry --

Q: (No mic.)

JAMIE McMURRAY: No, it's not at all. It just kind of a slow process to get all of that ironed out and working on a multi-year deal with everybody, so just have to wait until we get all that done. You can see Rod. He's on the left-hand side if you would like to ask any other questions.

Q: If you were in the Chase, if you were there, and you were 155 points behind right now, would you think maybe it's over for me? If you were 155 behind with --

JAMIE McMURRAY: No. Because Talladega still has to be run. And I think Talladega can take out ten Chasers, that's my opinion. So I think until you get through Talladega, then, no, I think everybody is still in it.

Q: I'm going to discuss this year quickly. You have had one hell of a year. What is the best moment of your year?

JAMIE McMURRAY: For me, I think the last lap at Indy, because even though -- it's just different at Indy. That's a race that every team puts so much work into, and not that they don't all the other races and not that it's not the Daytona 500; but Indy is just one of those races, it's in the middle of the year and everyone puts so much work in it to build this beautiful race car and there's so much extra little detail that goes into that and everybody wants to win that race. You just always hear everybody talk about that.

And it takes 50 seconds to go around there, and the last 50 seconds at Indy was probably just one of the coolest things ever for me, to like savor that and know that it's going to happen.

Q: People say a lot of times a driver will get too much of the blame when things are not going well and too much of the credit when things are going well. For as strong of a season as you've had, are you different as a driver from two years ago?

JAMIE McMURRAY: No, I don't think I'm any different. I think I'm in the right situation, and certainly Bono and Randall and Kevin, everybody, everybody there, I mean, we just have a very good working relationship.

And I get asked the question a lot of what's different here versus Roush. And I would tell you that I have been asked that a lot, and I never really had an answer for it. But I have thought about it a lot, and I think the difference is is that we don't run the same stuff as the 42 car. And it doesn't matter what they have it.

We do what we feel is right for our team, and we stray away from maybe what they have every once in awhile and we do what's best for us. And that wasn't something that you could really do at Roush. You had to kind of stay within the bubble or not get out of the box, because if you did, you got chastised after the race.

So we just do what's right for us, and I think that's what makes the biggest difference.

Q: On the heels of what Jamie just said, Bono, as a four-car team, Ganassi struggled a bit to find that success, but this year perhaps the best year in Ganassi's NASCAR history as a two-car team. What's different now than just a year or two ago?

KEVIN MANION: I can only speak for the last couple of years from the merger, but I think two teams is not bad. You know, sometimes you get four -- I guess only relate it to like kids. I have one child. If I had two, man, I don't know what I would do, you know what I mean.

But the two teams, they really work good together. Brian and I have a great working relationship. We have been friends since the Nationwide days and we raced hard there, and I think our teams are just really -- they really along. It's a small number. You know, going from the four-car team and then going down to three and then going down to two, you obviously have to lay people off unfortunately, and you get smaller, but when you get smaller, you also get leaner. You can hand-choose the guys you want on your teams and you put your best people in the best positions and let them do their job. That's one thing I noticed about Chip's organization is he has a person for every job and he let's them people do them jobs and do them to their best ability.

I think everything at Chip's shop is working and it's working correctly and engineering, I tell Chip this, engineering is a little dysfunctional but it works tremendously good, you know what I mean.

So I think just the two-car team works for us better than four. Less people goofing off. It's right under your nose. You know exactly what's happening.

KERRY THARP: Congratulations tonight on the victory. You've had a super year. Thank you.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Kyle Busch