Daytona Shootout: 2nd, 3rd finishers press conference

Budweiser Shootout Post-Race Press Conference
February 12, 2011

An Interview With:
JAMIE McMURRAY - 2nd place finisher
RYAN NEWMAN - 3rd place finisher

RYAN NEWMAN: Any idea of what it exactly was going to play out like. That was the most unexpected race I've ever been a part of.

THE MODERATOR: We'll also hear from our race runner-up, that's Jamie McMurray. He drives the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boats Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi, and Jamie, talk about your run out there tonight. You certainly had a fast car.

JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, had a really good car. The first 25 laps Juan and I really were struggling because we were on the rev limiter so hard, and when you would get, I don't know, 18th or 16th to 18th you'd get these huge drafts on the pack in front, and we couldn't catch them because the car was limited on the rpms it would turn, so we raised the ref limiter at the break and then the car was really good after that.

You know, it's completely different plate racing than we've ever had, and I hope that it was exciting to watch. It's so different not being in the large packs, but like Ryan said, it's different than Talladega because of the runs you can get, and honestly when there's a pack of cars, the front really wasn't the place to be because you would get huge runs being behind.

So I don't know, it was a lot of fun. It's really weird to push somebody all the way around the track and side draft with two guys that are also pushing all the way around the track. It's just the strangest feeling. But it was a lot of fun tonight. I really had a good time.

Q: Ryan, if you could -- what is the easiest way to try to explain to people why it's so drastically different with two cars being the way to go as opposed to all the years that we've seen the big long packs of cars? And also, looking ahead what do you see happening on Thursday and also next Sunday?

RYAN NEWMAN: You want the technical answer? Sometimes you guys don't want that, so I'm asking. My perception of it is --

JAMIE McMURRAY: I can't wait. This is going to be really good.

RYAN NEWMAN: I can make some stuff up and you might believe me (Laughter.)

The front car gets the clean air, the motor. The back car takes the air front off the front car's spoiler. Even though he gets the air taken out of his motor, he's still pushing the car in front of him and he's getting that help. If there was that third car, he's basically got not -- he doesn't have the air in the column to help propel him forward, so the front car has got the biggest motor, the second car is just helping push along, and the way the drag works out, whatever, you can -- even going through the corners you can just barely feel the car behind you kind of tap you sometimes. It's right there.

And that's why I was surprised when Kurt stayed in line with you as close as you did because it seemed like in practice like I didn't experience that, but in general it just seems like the cars -- we saw it at Talladega where guys would push and they finally figured out how to swap and do some of that stuff at the end of last year, and I think people caught on and did some homework and figured out coming to Daytona this is what we're going to have to get prepared for, and the majority of the teams were prepared for it.

Q: What do you see Thursday and Sunday?

RYAN NEWMAN: I was saying earlier, I hope I hit the front row and can sit back and just watch the duels on Thursday because it's fun to be a part of it, but when you've got guys in there that are mixed up trying to go for making that race, it's going to get really crazy.

We were very respectful. All of us were very respectful tonight with the runs we were getting. There was probably 15 miles an hour difference at times and if a guy was inexperienced or had to make something happen and pulled up in front of you, it was going to be a big wreck.

That's something that I think we have to be prepared for all as drivers going into Thursday's races is the -- I guess the unexpected hazardous efforts to try to make a position to make the Daytona 500.

JAMIE McMURRAY: It's going to be different, too, if it's hotter on Thursday because they're going to limit how hot the cars are going to get. It was so cool tonight when the car would get 275 degrees you could peek the nose out and my car would go back down to 230 in a straightaway, and if it's 40 degrees hotter on Thursday it's not going to do that. Yeah, I think it'll be a lot different racing when you have to swap, where tonight we didn't have to.

Q: For either one of you, as racers you look at lap times, but the rest of us look at speeds, and some of us extrapolated, we heard on TV that you were going 206. Is that too fast especially because NASCAR likes to keep the cars under 200? How do you feel about the speed?

JAMIE McMURRAY: You can't tell the difference if you're going 180 or 220. I've never went 220, but you can't tell a difference in the speed.

RYAN NEWMAN: 199.5 versus 206.5 I don't know that you could feel it, and I've always said the most important thing is we keep the race cars on the racetrack. So whatever we've worked on with our liftoff speed, if the car is going backwards, sideways, whatever else to keep the cars down, that's what NASCAR needs to focus on for making the race safe.

If the cars get airborne at 140 we'd better not cross 139, so I don't know what that number is. I don't know if there is a true number out there, but if we were doing 212 and the cars were safe and we could keep them on the ground, then that's fine with me.

JAMIE McMURRAY: I think if NASCAR decided they wanted to put a smaller plate on, there's not going to be anybody upset about that because you can't tell the difference and it's not going to make the racing any different if you make the runs you get at 199 or 206. You can't feel a difference, and it's not going to change anything for anyone.

Q: Ryan, just wanted to ask you, you described this as the most unexpected race that you've ever been a part of. Was part of that because of what had happened on that last lap to see the four-car breakaway and then see a guy who's running third like that wind up winning this thing, and is being third really on the last lap the optimal place to be?

RYAN NEWMAN: Tonight it was, and from an unexpected standpoint, I mean, I think if you look at all of what you thought you could predict going in, we at Stewart-Haas anticipated working together a lot more as teammates, and it just never happened. It never unfolded for us tonight. Those things we expected and therefore it never happened, so that's one unexpectation, the way the two cars worked together, the number of laps you could go straight without switching, as we call it, was kind of unexpected. The four-car breakaway and then from what I understand there was another four-car breakaway behind that, that was unexpected.

Just the way it all worked out, the situation for us when we didn't come in to pit and then pitted with one to go and came in and got fuel and other guys did different strategies, and I think at the same time when you get two guys working together as you might see RCR cars working together, the caution comes out and they're not lined up together anymore, so you have to find a new teammate, and the way the spotters are working, all those things put together on top of what happened on the last lap was totally unexpected.

Q: Ryan, how many laps could you go paired up together before you had to break? And for Jamie, you mentioned it would be different on Thursday, but with the changes to the duck hosing, could you tell any difference tonight with the changes NASCAR made?

RYAN NEWMAN: I never had an issue because I was usually the pushee, not the pusher. So I think I pushed the 17 for six or seven laps at one point in the middle of the race, but other than that, my bumper was getting help. My rear bumper was getting the help.

I just didn't -- I expected -- I don't even know how many laps we went straight with the 11 behind me at the end of the race, but I expected at some point I was hoping he'd want to switch, but he didn't.

JAMIE McMURRAY: The hose you're talking about is just going to an oil cooler, and not everybody had that hose or a separate oil cooler on their car. We did not, so we didn't have to change anything. And if it does get warmer on Thursday it's going to be different because the way the systems are set up with what we ran tonight, you could run up to I think 290-some degrees before it would blow the water out of the system, and with what we're going to have on Thursday I believe it's only going to go to 255 or 260, and that's going to change because tonight I would have had to pull out a few times. I wouldn't have been able to push Kurt as long as I did because I got to 275 a couple times.

It's going to be different with the changes they've made, and I think it's going to be good where you have to do the swaps because it's going to make for a lot more passing because when the swap happens you lose 20 miles per hour in one corner or 15 miles per hour, and it's going to -- you're going to have a lot more exchanges for the lead or on the track because of the cars having to make those swaps.

RYAN NEWMAN: We anticipated coming into tonight that we were going to have to run six, eight, ten laps and then swap and run six, eight, ten laps and then swap, and we never had that because the ambient temperature was so cool, and when the ambient temperature comes up then our cooling is affected by it, and therefore that swap, that number, changes exponentially.

Q: Were you surprised that the only way to race tonight was two by two?

RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I honestly, from what I had seen in practice, at times depending on the two cars that got together, they could break away from other two cars that were together, and we didn't see that at the end of the race tonight, so I don't know if my car was off in speed or if it was just the way things worked out and the way the cars lined up between my car getting pushed by Denny's Toyota and a Dodge getting pushed by a Chevrolet or just the combination of four cars together. I'm not sure what we're seeing as far as the variations in that two-car or four-car breakaway.

Q: For either of you, is there anything that you would like for NASCAR to consider in the next few days before the 150s, before the 500, or is this type of racing acceptable for the biggest race of the year for that sport?

RYAN NEWMAN: I think this type of racing is acceptable. I mean, that's a better question for the fans. That's their poll. They saw what Daytona used to be like, they saw what Talladega is, but to me the biggest question is the speed factor and being safe when we get in some of those situations. From what I saw tonight, the cars that did get turned around got turned around in the corner and therefore there was much more G-force to hold the cars down on the racetrack than had they been turned around on the straightaway. I didn't exactly see what happened to the 88 and them on the back stretch. I didn't know if they were close to taking off or -- the way the traffic was.

Ultimately the cars have to stay on the ground for it to be safe. We're going to have crashes, we're going to bounce off the safety barriers, guys are going to blow tires, it's racing. But the car staying on the ground is what's the most important thing.

Q: Was past experience any kind of help to you today, and as far as do you think anybody had an idea what was going to transpire? Was it learn as you go do you think?

JAMIE McMURRAY: I mean, it's so much different than what we've had here before because handling is not important, and it's just -- even at Talladega we've never been locked together for more than a couple of laps, so it's -- I mean, it's completely different racing. What Ryan said earlier about when the guys behind you get the runs they do and they're coming so fast, everyone has driven on a highway and went to get into the fast lane and you see cars coming and know I can't block in front of him because they're coming too fast, or if you're merging onto the interstate and you look up in your mirror and you're like, I need to leave him a path because when you're pushing a guy you just follow him and you can't see anything. And if someone pulls up to block him, you're going to shove him right through him because you can't see.

I mean, you're really probably more dependent on your spotter. I was tonight. I was just listening to him. He's like, look, they're on the bottom and Kurt is probably going to go through the middle. I was like, all right, I'll just keep shoving, and that's exactly what happened. For me I was more dependent on him tonight than ever. It's way different than we've ever had in the past.

RYAN NEWMAN: My spotter was driving for me as if I was the car in front of me when I was behind somebody pushing. You're at the mercy of his perception of car lengths and speed, and for instance, one time in the trial oval I went down below the yellow line and the 16 was still on my bumper wide open and I was on the brakes still passing cars just because that's the way it worked out, and eventually I came over the radio and said, hey, I had no control there. I let the guys have their positions back. I could have kept going, but it was like, wow.

And then I told -- when the 18 and the 5 spun in front of us going into turn 1 up there, the 24 was pushing me, we just got hooked up together, after we got through the crash, I come over the radio and said make sure you tell the 24 thanks for getting me through the crash because he pushed me right on through it. We both barely missed it, but it was him that helped push me through it.

Some of it is racing luck, but a big part of what won the race tonight was communication.

Q: So the way it is now, does it put the driver more in control of what's going on as opposed to the way it was here last year?

RYAN NEWMAN: I think it puts the team more in control between the spotter and the driver and working together with your other teams or other organizations or who you randomly work with. For instance, tonight there was three Roush cars in the race. I just happened to be the one that got to be the other. I was the fourth Roush car tonight because the 16 didn't have anybody to work with. You just never know how it's all going to work out. Yeah, he wants to be up front just as much as I do, so there's going to be a time he's going to bail off and go with the 99 or the 17 or whoever else, but you just -- I mean, it's 100 percent a team sport the way it is right here.

JAMIE McMURRAY: I don't know that it's more in control. You know, one thing that I heard Ryan say earlier that I didn't realize like at Talladega is when we have the restarts and you get locked together, when you're getting up to speed is when the cars are hard to drive. Once you get up to speed and your rpms level out, and I heard Ryan say this, and it's so weird, it's like you're not pushing the guy. It's like you're real close, and when you're the guy in front you'll tap the brake, ooh, you'll feel him still be there. I don't know, it's just so much different than what we've had in the past.

I think teammates are really important, but if you're pushing your teammate and have a restart, odds are if you're been pushing him he's going to line up in the other row. I don't know, I think the whole teammate thing will come down to the end, but you've just got to help whoever is in front of you.

THE MODERATOR: Ryan, Jamie, thank you very much, and good luck next week with the 53rd running of the Daytona 500. Thank you.

-source: nascar

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jamie McMurray