Jamie McMurray, a former Brickyard 400 winner, offers his thoughts on the new aero package for this weekend's race.
Jamie McMurray says to win the Brickyard 400, “You don’t have to have a perfect car, but you do have to have a perfect race.”
McMurray should know. When he won the 2010 Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, McMurray didn’t have the fastest car — that was his then Ganassi Racing teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.
The No. 42 Target Chevy led the most laps (86) but a four-tire pit stop mired Montoya in traffic with less than 20 laps remaining in the race. Four circuits after the race went green, Montoya collided with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his race was over.
That opened the door for McMurray. The No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy took the lead from Kevin Harvick with 11 circuits remaining and never looked back.
“Bono (crew chief Kevin Manion) made a really good decision to put two tires on at the end and it got us the track position we needed,” McMurray said.
A lot has changed for McMurray since his victory here. Manion has moved on — as has Montoya. McMurray is on his third crew chief, Matt McCall after a one-and-done season with Keith Rodden last year.
Working well with McCall
McMurray, who is currently ninth in the point standings, feels his “season has been really good” under the direction of McCall.
“Our team has done a really good job,” McMurray said. “I’m in my second year with a rookie crew chief. Matt has done a great job. Matt got to the shop at like 3:45 in the morning on Monday after I made a mistake shifting. I felt like he thought there was more pressure on him to do well and so I just can’t say enough nice things about him.
“He’s done a great job of preparing the car every single weekend and our team has done a really good job of executing the weekends.”
Now, McMurray must also acclimate to a new drag package for this race. NASCAR increased the spoilers from six inches to nine with a one-inch wicker bill at the top. The teams had to add a two-inch overhang on the splitter and the radiator pan increased from 38 inches to 43 inches at this race — and Michigan next month.
Mac’s early impression?
“The restarts are going to be fairly crazy,” McMurray told Motorsport.com. “I don’t know what the overall race side will be like. It’s not quite as draggy as I expected. I guess looking at that spoiler and knowing how much drag there is in that. You can drive the car quite a bit harder than normal. It still feels like you’re going pretty quick. The corner speeds still feel real fast. But I don’t know as far as traffic.”
NASCAR also introduced a new left-side tire for the event. In practice, McMurray said there was more fall off with the left side tires compared to the rights. But like most of the drivers, McMurray is hoping for more power. Sprint Cup teams started the weekend with a 3.70 gear and after practices on Friday, NASCAR sent a bulletin to the teams offering a 3.75 or 3.80 for qualifying and the race.
“The throttle response is pretty weak. We still need more gear. They’ve given us a little bit of gear. I think the intention as the track slows down is to give us some more but the most we brought here was 3.80 and I think on race day, we’re all going to need more than that. So I’m hoping we can get more.”