NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 Post-Race Transcript An interview with: JEFF GORDON JAMIE McMURRAY THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by third place finisher in today's race, Jamie McMurray. His third place finish marks the third top...
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 Post-Race Transcript
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by third place finisher in today's race, Jamie McMurray. His third place finish marks the third top five finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jamie, talk about your night tonight.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, at the beginning of the race, you're kind of just logging laps. But our car I was a little bit worried in Happy Hour because the car didn't drive very good. Seemed to have good speed, but it didn't drive as good as it did at Charlotte and Atlanta. We ran really well at those tracks. When the race started, it just seemed to have a lot of grip. I searched around a little bit, found a groove that worked for me, just kind of rode it out.
I think we had probably the second best car at the beginning. Carl was really fast at the start of the race. He was able to get through lap traffic a little bit better also.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Jamie.
Q: That last pit stop, took two tires, got out front. In a situation like that where you have your teammate leading the race, he's battling in the Chase, does it ever cross your mind looking out for them, doing something that would help you to your detriment?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I think if you're racing for 10th, it's different. When you're racing for a win, it's hard to win at this level. You certainly wouldn't do anything to hurt those guys. But nobody, nobody in this sport's going to give up a win to help somebody gain three or five points, whatever it would be. So, no.
Q: What did you think of your crew chief's decision to have you pit there at the end?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, I don't figure fuel mileage. I think he just did a wonderful job tonight with calling for the two tires with 70 laps to go, however many there were. Then I asked him what lap we were going to pit with, and he said with 12 to go. In my head I thought 12 laps to go, it's hard to save 12 laps of fuel. Guys just don't do that. So I didn't really think that anyone was going to be able to make it. Then for your teammate to make it and you not...
I talked to the engineer right after the race. He said, It wasn't even close for us. Told me the mileage they would have to get, the mileage we were getting. He's like, We just really didn't have that choice.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by second place finisher in today's race, Jeff Gordon. Jeff tied his career best finish at Texas Motor Speedway and now has six top five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jeff, you started on the pole. Up and down day for you. Talk about your run.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I was pretty optimistic when the green flag dropped. Took off there, the car felt great. We started. Car started going away a little bit. But we maintained top five. Every time, typical Texas, we just started losing the handle on it as the sun went down. Lost that track position on one run where we got real loose.
Man, what a struggle it was when that happened. Just holding on tight. We lost a lap. But the cautions fell our way. The team never gave up. Real proud of them. Then Steve Letarte made a great call there. It kind of fell our way. But he still thought about if it went all the way on fuel, and that's what it takes to come home second on a day like today. We were a lap short.
But, you know, we came in, fueled up, made some adjustments. Car was really pretty good on that last run. He said, Hey, you know, I think we're going to be a lap short. I know I conserved a little bit. I thought, you know, we could make it, and we did.
He was apologizing to me because he thought he was going to get us a win. I said, Man, you can't apologize about finishing second on a day like today. That was like a win.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.
Q: Jamie, that's three top 10s in about four races. Is there a sense this team is starting to come together?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Really since Dover, we led at the beginning of the race, got involved in a wreck. Our cars have been top 10 cars about every race. We've run in the top five like two of the last three. Really not doing anything different. It just seems like we're able to make better adjustments to the cars.
Really when we unloaded here, we were horrible. They came in and sat in the car for about 10 minutes, they made a couple of adjustments. I pulled back out, it's like it drives great. You just don't get to have that very often. If you don't unload well, it's hard to get your car right.
Our sim program that we have at Roush Fenway, it's incredible how they can make our cars drive as well as they can, giving us like a starting setup.
I don't know. I mean, it certainly is nice to be able to run this way at the end of the year because I feel like the guys that run well towards the end of the season are able to start next year running that same way. Hopefully we can get through Phoenix and Homestead. Those are two tracks I really enjoy.
Q: Usually in a fuel mileage race, the winning car is a top 10 car that just kind of gambles. It's not usually the car that leads the most laps. Talk about the oddity of having a dominant car win a fuel mileage race.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I mean, that's usually the downside of having a great car. If you have a big enough lead, you can maybe conserve. I mean, Roush has always been known for good fuel mileage. I tell you what, that car was really, really strong today. I know my crew chief was really hoping he was going to run out of gas.
You know, got to give him credit, take your hat off to him for having be able to have that good of a racecar and getting good fuel mileage to take it to the end, and taking a gamble. They're kind of in that position where they have nothing to lose really. Jimmie had a big lead coming in. And those guys, I think they knew if they took a gamble and it paid off, that that would pay off big in the points. Unfortunately for Jimmie, it did.
Q: Jeff, when you have this kind of finish, even though you are still winless here, what does it tell you about where this team is going in terms of trying to get that win?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, we're not going to give up, that's for sure. I know it's late in the season, we haven't won yet, but that doesn't mean we're laying down. We're certainly not going to do that. Just like going for the pole on Friday, I mean, we're doing everything we possibly can.
You know, I'd be a little bit more excited about our chances if we had run up front and ran in that second position all night or all day. I mean, the thing is, we're gonna look at any possible way to win races. We're going to try to make the car go as fast as we can. When we have that opportunity to make it on fuel, you know, we're going to take the opportunity. That's what we did tonight.
But I'm still disappointed that, you know, we struggled with the handling. You know, I had my hands full. Some of it's me; some of it's the team and the setup. That's something we've got to work on coming back to Texas.
But, you know, I look forward to the next two opportunities to try to win. Tonight's an obvious sign of we can still win. No matter how the car's running, we can still win. We'll go to the next two and do everything we can to try to win.
Q: Comparing last April here to this race tonight, can that be looked at as a microcosm of the improvement your team has had over the season? Is it any indication of where you guys can improve to for next year?
JEFF GORDON: I mean, yeah, I think so. I mean, it's definitely a sign. We've improved, there's no doubt about it. One of the reasons why we haven't had a win to this point in the season's because we really were off track at the beginning of the season. Unlike Jimmie and their team, it's taken us a little longer to get it turned around.
But we have definitely turned things around. We've been way more competitive, especially on the mile and a half's. Tonight was a perfect example. Not only qualifying, but even though we weren't very good, we were still way better than we were here in April. Of course, it was hard to be worse.
But, you know, I think not only tonight but the last several races have shown the improvements that we've made with the cars.