Jamie McMurray will be joining the Ford Racing stable next season when he takes over as driver of the No. 97 Ford Fusion for car owner Jack Roush. McMurray held a Q&A session in the PIR infield media center to discuss his move. JAMIE MCMURRAY --...
Jamie McMurray will be joining the Ford Racing stable next season when he takes over as driver of the No. 97 Ford Fusion for car owner Jack Roush. McMurray held a Q&A session in the PIR infield media center to discuss his move.
JAMIE MCMURRAY -- No. 97 Roush Racing Ford Fusion
WHAT DOES THE CAR CAP MEAN AS FAR AS YOUR DEAL WITH ROUSH RACING? "I talked to Geoff Smith and Jack and it doesn't really pertain to me. They're grandfathered in, I guess, through 2009 so my contract runs through 2009, so I'm good as long as I'm there so far. That's not something I'm really involved in anyway. That's pretty much up to the owners and NASCAR."
THOUGHTS ON DRIVING THE 97 AS OPPOSED TO THE 6. "This has taken so long to see exactly where I'm gonna be and where Kurt's gonna be. Obviously, that was a big deal to get to get in the 6 car and to have Mark personally come ask me to replace him when he retires and things just didn't work out that way. The 97 obviously won the championship last year and has won races this year and Roush Racing has been so successful, not only this year but for the last two or three years with the championships they've won. That's hard to answer because if you say you're disappointed not to go to the 6, I mean it's a really good organization and I'm looking forward to going and obviously being with what's currently the 97 team."
ANY STRESS IN ALL OF THIS? "Yeah, just because I wanted to know. I made the commitment to Chip and I spoke with Chip two or three weeks ago and I told him. We talked about that there was a possibility that this deal might get accomplished this year, and I just wanted to know exactly where I was gonna be. The winter time is when you start building new cars and you want to know what team you're gonna work with. If that was gonna be the 42 team, then I was OK with that because I had made my commitment to driving for Chip through next season, but at one point I thought that it was all gonna get worked out, and then there was a point where it was not gonna get worked out and I just wanted to know where I was gonna be. The guys that I'm working with now, they're my best friends and it wasn't gonna be that bad of a deal to have to stay with them. But when you know your future is with another organization, you want to move on. The biggest thing is you just want to know exactly what's gonna happen, and it wasn't in my control. It wasn't a situation where they said, 'What do you want to do?' They knew that I wanted to move on and go to Roush Racing, but there are so many other things that were involved with that -- not just my future and Kurt Busch's future."
WILL YOU RUN SOME BUSCH RACES NEXT YEAR AND THINGS LIKE THE ROLEX? "I think that actually there's already been a little talk about running the 24 Hours of Daytona. That's a fun race and we're ready to get back in cars by the time that rolls around. As far as the Busch deal, I have every intention of being with Rusty's Busch team for next year. Rusty has become probably my best friend in the garage area as far as drivers go. We hang out a lot and whether you're playing golf or just talking about racing, he's one of my best friends and he's a great name to be involved with. He's somebody I've always looked up to and we've made a lot of changes to the Busch team. We ended last year winning at Darlington and running second at Homestead and really felt like this year we had a shot to win a lot of races and things just haven't gone well for us. It's been a struggle, so we've made some changes internally with crew chiefs and everything and right now the Busch team is as fun as it's ever been and everybody is getting along really well. I know that Top Flight is coming back next year. I'm not sure how many races they'll be back, but Top Flight is coming back and I think they're looking for some other sponsorship, so I have every intention of running as many Busch races as I can next year with Rusty."
WERE YOU KEPT UP TO DATE ON THE SITUATION? "I was kept in the loop, but the deal was people would call and they didn't have any information. They just kept telling you the same thing that you already knew, so I just pretty much told them that unless you have something that is gonna be of any significance, don't call me. It doesn't do any good to talk about it unless something is gonna happen. So I was definitely kept in the loop. Like I say, I think most of you know what's happened. The best way it was put together was there was a lot of pieces of the puzzle and we kept thinking we had some and then we didn't have those and then we'd get others. So it took a long time. Honestly, I just kind of tried not to think about it. As hard as it is to do, you try not to think about it but it's your life and your future and everything that you've worked forever for and it's tough when it's undecided and you don't know what you're gonna do. So you try not to think about it, but obviously you do every day when you wake up."
HOW EXCITED IS IT TO GO TO ROUSH? "I'm certainly not gonna get up here and bad mouth anyone because Chevron Texaco has been wonderful to work with and I won with Chip and Felix in our second race. It looked like a very bright future, unfortunately it just didn't work out. We haven't won a race. We've had a lot of success. We've run second I don't know how many times and we ran really well, we just never got back to Victory Lane. That's the reason I'm leaving. I've talked with Chip about this numerous times, it has nothing to do with personal feelings. I get along extremely well with everyone at the organization, including Chip and Felix. It's certainly a business decision and Roush has won two championships. Right now I think they're as strong as they've ever been with five drivers in the chase, so I'm looking forward to that. This is my decision and this is what I want to do and I'm very excited about moving on."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE JOINING A TEAM THAT HAS A BULLSEYE ON IT WITH THIS LATEST RULING? "I really don't have an opinion. That's not gonna effect me and my racing next year. You need to speak with people that are in upper management at Roush because I don't really have an opinion on that and that's not something I even want to comment on."
DO YOU TRY TO STEER CLEAR OF CONTRACTS AND THAT KIND OF THING OR ARE YOU HANDS ON? "I think contracts are wonderful things when everything is written out on a piece of paper with what exactly the rules are of the agreement. When you don't have a contract is when people get confused and they assume things. So I think it's wonderful that we have contracts for both sides. If a better opportunity comes along for a car owner with a better driver, every driver wants to know that there's some security in that he's not gonna be let go and vice versa for car owners. So I think it's great. Do you want to be involved in them? No, because to be quite honest if anybody's ever read a contract they don't make sense. It has a lot of 'where as and what is' and that honestly doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I believe every other driver would be lying if he said it made sense to him, but I think it's wonderful that we have contracts and that's the way it should be. As long as everybody honors those, then it's great."
HOW INVOLVED WERE YOU IN THIS DECISION? "It's a tough decision because you make a decision based on performance and on the business side of it, not on your personal feelings. If you did this based on personal feelings, I'd still be at Chip Ganassi Racing because you develop relationships with your team and your crew chiefs and with everyone around the organization. Whether it's the secretary at the front desk you become friends with them and it's tough because you know in a month those aren't gonna be the same people that you work with. I can't even give you a comparison, but it's hard to move on and go somewhere else. There's 350 employees, I think, at Chip Ganassi Racing and I was almost to a point where I knew everyone's name, and now I'm moving on to another team and gonna walk into a shop on Monday and maybe know five people. So it's tough, but you move on because in this sport you want to win. All the drivers and crew members and owners, every one lives to win races. You wake up every day and that's your goal. When you go two or three years and you don't win, you look at that and you have to figure out what's best for you and where you need to go to try to win. That's what I based my decision on."
ANY ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE ANOTHER DRIVER IN THIS SITUATION? "I don't know. It's not something that's really in your control. When you're (Multbox cuts out at this point.)
"Guys, honestly, last Monday when I spoke with Chip, I really felt that I was gonna be in the 42 car next year and I was fine with that because I had signed a contract that said that's where I was gonna be. So I kind of mentally was prepared to stay in the 42 next year and be fully content with that. If things worked out where I could go to the 97, then that was gonna be great. Yeah, you somewhat hoped that things would get worked out, but I wasn't counting on it."
WHAT ABOUT HAVING MARK AS A TEAMMATE AND THE OTHER GUYS? "One of the things I based my decision on with going to Roush Racing was the teammates I was gonna have because I knew that Reid and David were gonna be coming to Ganassi. I still feel that I'm young enough that I need to learn from people that have been around for a long time and it was gonna be tough to learn a lot from two guys that felt like they were gonna be learning from me. One of the things that I've thought about in the last week or so is that I was supposed to go replace Mark Martin -- someone that I looked up to forever -- and I talked to him this week and I said, 'Man, I'm gonna get to be your teammate now. It's like a bonus.' So I look forward to that. And Matt and Greg and Mark, and obviously Carl has had a lot of success the last two weeks, are really smart drivers. The one thing about all of the Roush drivers, I think, is that they're really into their chassis and everything it takes to make a car go fast and I love that. That's one of the things I really get out of racing is learning on what makes a car go faster. There are a lot of different types of drivers in our series. There are some that could care less, but they can drive and they seem to be able to tell a crew chief what they need in order to make it faster. The Roush guys are all pretty hands on, so I look forward to that part of being at Roush Racing."