JAMIE McMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET met with media and discussed off-season changes for 2012, the test as of day two, and more.
THE MODERATOR: We have the two most recent Daytona 500 winners here, Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 21 Ford Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford, and Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops McDonald's Chevrolet. Guys, just talk a little bit about the test so far and maybe perhaps what it would mean to be a Daytona 500 winner yet again.
JAMIE McMURRAY: The testing has been kind of wild so far. It seems like we don't know exactly what the rules are going to be, so it's a little bit hard to do all of your testing when you're not 100 percent sure on the plate or what the like when you do the drafting, if you don't know exactly the size of the radiator opening and I'm not criticizing anybody because everyone is kind of working together to figure out how we can break up the tandem drafting, and I've spent 15 or 20 minutes two or three times over in the NASCAR hall there just telling them what I'm feeling and trying to help what we can do to break that up.
It seems like they're going the right direction. I think they're making the valve they're going to go down a little bit more on the valve it sounds like and tape the grille up some more. Sounds like they're going in the right direction. As of right now you can still do the tandem drafting, and it's still faster even than when we were out there in the big pack and it seems a lot safer than when we were in the big pack. The cars moved around a lot more than what we used to have.
It's normal testing, but it's a little bit chaotic, as well.
Q. Jamie, how is this year going to be different? I know you've changed a lot of personnel. What's your mindset, things like that?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, Chip has made a really big commitment. I mean, they changed a lot of management. There's been a tremendous amount of changes to the 42 car. There's been quite a few changes to the 1 car. Hired a lot of new people from different organizations. You know, we hired John Probst from Red Bull, and he's done a really good job I feel like with getting everything organized.
You know, the frustrating part, guys, is that we won races with the guys that were there before, won some really big races. But I think the morale in the shop got way down, and everyone you know, you start criticizing everybody, and Chip needed to make a change to get everybody pumped back up.
And I think John has done a really good job with the way that he's structured everything. He's helped to bring in a lot of key people, whether it's the mechanical side of it or the aero side of the cars. He's brought in some really good people and opened our eyes to things that maybe we weren't looking at.
I don't think you're going to see just immediate results because it's going to take a little time, and our speedway cars don't seem to be just where they need to be yet. But from my perspective looking at it, it seems much more organized and everyone seems to be behind us. One thing that I remember about going over to CGR when I left Roush was walking through the shop and everybody in there being proud of what they had built, and I remember walking through there and a guy grabbing a gas pedal and saying, look, I built this gas pedal, and it's eight grams lighter than we what we had last year. Every single person had that mindset in there of being proud of what they had built.
We lost a little bit of that last year because we were changing our car so much, it was something different every week. I feel like guys are back in that same mindset of being proud of what they're producing, and they've made our cars much more adjustable than what they were last year. We'll be trying a lot of stuff to start the season off, and obviously you make changes thinking they're going to be better.
As of right now that's the way we feel, that Chip has made some good changes, and I feel like we've got some really good teams right now.
Q. This is a little bit off track, but if you could address this, you're both athletes with strong religious convictions. Tim Tebow has gotten some flak honestly in some circles for his beliefs. Can you address that as to why sometimes having strong religious beliefs turns into such a polarizing topic or can be?
JAMIE McMURRAY: My take on Tim Tebow is that he's on TV every Sunday, and he is the quarterback of an NFL football team, so he's the spotlight, as well, every Sunday, and he's fairly vocal about his religious beliefs. I think it's really easy everyone has their own way of expressing themselves. I don't know, I think it's easy to criticize. It's one thing to be a follower, but to be a leader is different.
You know, I think he's done a really good job at just expressing the way he feels. I don't know, I mean, I think that's fine. I really don't get why he catches so much criticism or so much flak, but it is what it is, and I think it's cool that he stands his ground.
Q. For the last 20 years NASCAR has backed away from the 200 mile per hour mark. How it seems like they're embracing it for the 500. Can you just talk about going 200 miles an hour? Is it different? Does the car feel different? Are you aware of that, that sort of thing?
JAMIE McMURRAY: For me it doesn't really feel any different. You can't tell a big difference from 190 to 205. You do at a place like Texas or Atlanta, but here not so much because you have so much grip, the cars drive so well, you don't feel the big speed difference. And I don't know why they're okay with going a little faster now. My guess would be that they have educated on how fast the cars can go and if they get out of control how stable they will be.
Yeah, I was always with you that I thought 200 miles per hour was the don't go past zone, but they seem to be comfortable with that, and the car, it doesn't feel a lot different.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, and best of luck in 2012.