Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2003 Jamie McMurray and Donnie Wingo JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid) WHAT PART OF ROOKIE LEARNING CURVE STANDS OUT? "I just feel so much more comfortable in the car. I don't know if...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2003
Jamie McMurray and Donnie Wingo
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid)
WHAT PART OF ROOKIE LEARNING CURVE STANDS OUT?
"I just feel so much more comfortable in the car. I don't know if there's one thing I can tell you that I have learned or that was the hardest. Going into each race I still get nervous, but getting in the car I feel like I know what I need to feel. If I don't have that feeling I feel like I can tell Donnie I know what we need to do and he'll say what he thinks we should do to get that. That's been the biggest help for me, getting the right feel out of the car. I love racing, and that's why I run the Busch car on Saturday. It's just fun to be in the car and be on the track. Whenever I don't get to run the Busch car on Saturday and also Busch practice, I feel like I don't get enough racing on the weekend. When you grow up racing go-karts and then you go to the stock cars, I had a job as a waiter for awhile, and I also worked at a grocery store, and you got to race because you loved it. Now I get to do it all the time. I just like the part where you get to drive the car."
HOW DO YOU LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR'S WIN AT CHARLOTTE?
"It was hard to believe at the time, and now I haven't done it again in 35 races.... The 40 team last year was at that level where it was capable of winning every week. It was very fortunate that I was able to do that (win) in my second start, but I think part of the reason we haven't been able to duplicate that this year, and we've come close - the Brickyard, Darlington, we've come really close to winning some races this year. It just didn't work out. It wasn't our time to win. It was unreal to win in your second start last year, especially under the circumstances filling in for Sterling after he got hurt. I think that's why you saw Kevin Harvick win so early also. Guys who come into the sport with a brand new race team, it's going to be hard for them to win in their first or second start, but Kevin and I both got into race cars that were winning races at the time we got in them, so it's a little bit different situation."
HAS THIS SEASON BEEN FRUSTRATING?
"Daytona was disappointing. We ran like 30th, but then we went to Rockingham and ran fifth. Even though it was a new race team, things were going our way. We went four or five races and didn't run very well. Then we went to Fontana and could have won the race at Fontana. Our season was very inconsistent at the beginning of the year. We had those good runs every once in awhile, almost winning the races. It's like playing golf. It's like having 17 bad holes and then you have one good one and it makes your whole day worthwhile. I think that kept the spark. In the second half of the season, we filled in with top 10s and then every fifth or sixth race we've had a shot to win the race. We've been a lot more consistent the second half of the season. I knew coming into the season that realistically, I mean I wanted to win every race, but realistically with us being a brand new team and everyone not having worked together and with the body changes that we probably weren't going to win our first or second race out. I knew it would take a little time for our team to build. I'm really looking forward to next year. I've read where a lot of people pick me for being in the top 10 in the points next year. That makes you feel really good that it's not just one or two races they're basing that off of. Really, since Daytona we've been really fast. We've been consistent. No matter where we've gone we've been good with the exception of the road courses. That's what I'm going to work on next year - the superspeedways and road courses because we haven't been good at those. We've been good on the short tracks and the intermediate stuff, so we need to work in that area."
HAS LONG SEASON TAKEN A TOLL?
"I love racing. Chip and Felix and Havoline have been really good. Whenever I get really tired and can't do the appearances, you guys are going to have to take it easy on me. They've planned my season out really well. I did some appearances at the beginning of the year and they gave me a break. I did a few more and they gave me a break. Havoline has said if we're doing too much just tell us because we understand. They understood what I was going to go through, and they made it easier on me. When you go out and run well, you don't get tired. You want to go back every week. We've run in the top 10, top five every week. There's nothing tiring about that. You want to keep going."
HOW DID THINGS CHANGE AFTER LAST YEAR'S WIN AT LMS?
"I don't see a big change in my personal life and the way I feel about things. Sometimes when I look back at last May or June at where I was at, it's totally different. A year ago I wouldn't think I'm going to go every weekend and try to win a Winston Cup race. Now, realistically, I have a team a sponsor, everything capable of winning races. After I won Charlotte, I finished third in the next Busch race and won the following two. It picked up my whole program and gave me the confidence to know that in the right situation that I could win. Everyone needs that. A lot of times when you come into a sport you feel that way and then maybe reality sets in. You have that confidence for awhile and then you realize it's a lot tougher than you thought. Once you finally win and know you're capable of doing it.... I don't know that the first win did, maybe a little bit, but I feel like I've gained respect by racing every week and not running into them, not racing them early in the race, giving them the respect they deserve. In return, they've given that back to me. I don't talk to other drivers in the garage. I'm very social, but I really don't talk to a lot of the drivers. I don't have an off racetrack relationship with them, but on the race track I feel like I have a really good relationship with all of them.
"I don't even have to have Havoline on anymore in order to get recognized and that freaks you out almost. You don't think people know you, but when you're on TV every week they figure out who you are. We used to go out and eat at every racetrack. Even though we had the motorhome, we'd go out and eat dinner. No one knew who you were. No one really cared. Then we realized after Charlotte that we couldn't go out to eat anymore because people want to come by and talk and that's cool, but you can't eat while that's going one. We just realized that you're best off hanging out at the motorhome and cooking."
HAS RYAN NEWMAN WON ENOUGH RACES TO ACCUSE HIM OF CHEATING?
"That's a big rumor in the garage area, thinking something might be going on with fuel mileage. I kept asking questions. How can you have that much power and get better fuel mileage than everybody, but somebody pointed out to me that the DEI cars have the most power on superspeedways and get good fuel mileage there also. They said it might come from just having a real fuel-efficient engine. Those guys have done their homework. Each time you win somebody accuses you of cheating. That's just a sore loser. We want to be Ryan Newman. We want to go out and win eight races next year. We hope everybody accuses us of cheating. Look back at last year. Those guys finished second five or six times. I think he had more top fives than anybody last year, so it's not that big or a surprise to see him win that many races. It's just ironic that he keeps winning them all on fuel mileage. They're doing their job and they happen to be getting good gas mileage. That's just part of it."
HAS THIRD TEAM PUT A STRAIN ON CHIP GANASSI RACING?
"I think if it put a strain on anyone's team it would have been ours. When we came in, they didn't just add a new team and take from everyone else's. They hired new people for the fab shop. They hired more people all around. If it had put a strain on us, it would have been in the beginning of the year. It didn't seem to affect the 40 car. I don't think it did. All three teams got three new cars at the beginning of the year. Actually the other two teams have three new cars and we actually got four because we had to build a new road course car, but we all got a new short track car and two new intermediate cars. You could do it however you wanted, but that's what we all did. Then the 40 car picked two or three cars they didn't want and the 41 car picked two or three cars they didn't want and gave those to me. Everyone pretty much started out with the same deal. We're down to running three cars. We picked those cars out and they're running really well, and we've been fortunate we didn't tear a lot of stuff up. A lot of teams do that. They have two or three cars they run every single week, so everyone started out the same at the beginning of the year. That's one thing Chip and Felix do, and I think it's really good. One team doesn't get anything different from the other team. If they come out with a different carburetor, they don't let that team run it until the other two teams get it. It doesn't matter what it is. Until all three teams have it, the other team can't run it. It's really fair when the other team gets something good, but it's not when you get it. We'll run the same car (Saturday night) that we ran at Kansas, Darlington, Indy. It's run well for us every week."
COMMENT ON BODIES
"I think the bodies are fine the way they are. I think they're going to change the templates a little bit again next year. I hear what you guys write about. I heard Evernham and Childress complain about what it's going to cost to do that. For me, I don't think there's really anything wrong with the way the bodies are. It's just going to cost everybody more money, but they definitely went in the right direction this year with what they've done. I don't' think one make has a huge advantage over any other one."
IS RACING YOUR ONLY PASSION?
"I'm a project kind of guy. Right now I've got a project going on at my house building a pond and remodeling a house, but I'm never there because I'm racing. No, there's really nothing else that I like to do. This is what I do. I hope I don't get burned out of it. I woke up at 6 o'clock this morning so I could go mount a seat in the Busch car so I could race the Busch race this weekend. This is me. I think that's something maybe some of the new guys coming into the sport have on people. They haven't been doing it for 20 years, so maybe there is a little more drive there."
COMMENT ON IMPORTANCE OF TEAM CHEMISTRY
"All I can tell you is that our team gets along great. Everybody on our team likes everybody else. There's not one guy that can't get along with everyone or one guy that no one likes. Everybody likes everybody and a lot of it has to do with Donnie. He's really good at not getting anyone mad. I think it's really important for everyone to like each other, and I think everyone on our race team is just like me. They want to win really bad. I think some race teams people just put their time in and do the everyday schedule or every week schedule, but for our race team, we're all hungry to go win races and run well every week. That's what we all want, and everyone is willing to give the extra time to make that happen. The chemistry thing, you can't see it or smell it or feel it. It's just there. When you have it, you have it. When you don't you don't, and there's nothing much you can do about it."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH NOT WINNING?
"There's 36 races a year and only one guy gets to win every week. We want to win races, but you can't set your goals to win every single race. It's not realistic. If you don't set your goals realistic you're going to be disappointed a lot. Racing is different. It's not basketball or baseball. You can lead the whole race and have an engine blow up and be the dominant car and not win, but you can't be disappointed with that. You did what you were supposed to do. A lot of things can determine the outcome of a race. I think as long as you go to the track and give 100 percent and everyone on your team does and you perform like you should, if you didn't win, there's a lot of circumstances that affect the outcome. If we don't win, as long as we feel like we gave 100 percent and we know the next time we go back we know what we need to do different to win, you've got to be happy with that. That's all you can do. Someone asked the other night what I like most about my life right now. It's about when I grew up racing, I raced for my dad forever, and we didn't have a lot of money, so we just raced with what we had. As I moved up through the series, I didn't always race for the best teams and we didn't always have brand new cars. Right now, when I get my cars they're brand new and they're beautiful inside. When you grew up working on cars and racing your whole life and didn't have that every week, this is awesome. I didn't get to have that all the times, so I love where I'm at right now."
WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU AND JEFF GORDON TANGLED AT KANSAS?
"You don't look at anyone any different. Jeff has raced me clean all year. He did what I would have done. That's just part of it. I had about as much fun the last 10 laps at Kansas racing with Jeff, Jimmie and Kevin as I had all year just because we passed each other 10 times in one lap. I had a good time racing with all those guys."