Charlotte II: Jamie McMurray press conference

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I felt like we had a better car than the 18. Really the car I was worried about was the 20. They said he was coming pretty quick. I couldn't even see him in the mirror. It looked like he...

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"I felt like we had a better car than the 18. Really the car I was worried about was the 20. They said he was coming pretty quick. I couldn't even see him in the mirror. It looked like he was coming pretty fast. It looked like when he got close to the 18 he got a little tight or something and slowed down. I was thinking about every one in this room about the last 20 laps. The No. 1 question I've been asked is why did Felix and Chipcr take a chance on me. I knew I was going to be asked that question all winter long. I'm glad I finally won a race. When I say finally, I mean between the Busch Series and truck series and everybody wanted to know why they hired me. Chip and Felix and Coors Light and everybody took a chance on a guy living his dream. I'm going to cry. It's not funny. That's what I was thinking about, and just trying to hit my marks. Bruton, this was my least favorite racetrack last year. It's a challenging racetrack as a driver. This is a racetrack where you've got to have a good handling race car, a lot of horsepower and you have to be able to drive around it. My girlfriend will tell you when I was told I was going to drive the 40 car for the rest of the year, this is the place I was really worried about. I woke up at 4 in the morning two or three nights after I was told. She asked me what I was doing up and I told her I didn't want to go to Charlotte. Sterling won the race last year there and I'm terrible there, but it's a great race team. They gave me a good race car and I learned a lot from the Busch car. You hear a lot about why guys run the Busch race on Saturday, and honestly I learned the race track in my Busch car. After I got out of the Cup car on Thursday night the Busch car seemed like it was going so much slower, I could see things on the race track that I'd never seen before. You hear about the bumps in three and four. Honestly I never saw them until I got in my Busch car on Saturday. It just seemed like I could see the lines on the race track, and it picked up dramatically there. One of things about tonight is that as a race team you always hear about chemistry and working well together. I never made a suggestion on what we should do to the race car to make it better. I pretty much just told those guys do what you think. The car was really loose at the beginning of the run and it kept getting tighter. We made the right decisions tonight. They made really good calls in the pits and our race car got better through the entire night. It got better every pit stop. They kept making the right calls. It was our turn to win. The second time out it was our turn to win. It was our night. We had a great race car and they made good calls in the pits. I struggled getting in and out of the pits. They told me I was driving like a girl. I wasn't.

"I've seen so many people spin out getting on pit road, and I felt like for the one or two seconds I was going to give up getting on pit road, it would be better than spinning out. We had such a good race car, I knew once we got back out there I could make up some of the time. I got better at that. That was really the one thing going through my mind when we restarted and I got away from the 18. I felt if I could get in and out of the pits good I could win this race. I got in as good as I had all night. They gave me a good pit stop. We didn't have any problems at all in the pits. I got back out and saw the 18 coming. It took about 10 or 15 laps for my car to get going. It was really loose at the beginning of a run. It kept getting better. I just tried to keep my distance on him.

"Everybody made the comment to me about my first Cup race at Talladega and needing a friend. Actually it was more important tonight than it was at Talladega because it's so hard to pass here when you get behind guys. Really at the first of the race, I lost a lot of positions because I would catch guys and I couldn't get by 'em and somebody would get by me and that guy would get out of the way for him. It was frustrating, but I just tried to keep patient. I knew once we got our car freed up that we'd have a good enough car to get past those guys.

"Everybody just said keep patient. It's hard to be patient when you've never won a race in a truck or Busch Series and you're leading a Cup race and there's 50 laps left. I was going crazy. I just had so many things going through my head. How excited is Jamie McMurray? He's excited as can be right now.

"When I came in here, I told Chip I was going to give 100 percent and we'd get our race team to give 100 percent and when it's our turn it will happen. That's pretty much what happened tonight. In the truck series and Busch Series, I felt like I didn't stay long enough to win. Whenever I started running well up front, I got an opportunity to move up. In the truck series I got an opportunity to move up to the Busch Series. Now in my Busch car, I feel like we have a chance to win and run consistent and I got a chance to move up to Winston Cup. I didn't feel like I stayed in any series long enough to win races. I stayed long enough to learn what I needed to do and I was willing to stay in the Busch Series for another year. I had told everybody that unless an opportunity came along like Jimmie Johnson got from Jeff Gordon, I'm going to stay here. I really feel like I've gotten a better opportunity. I feel like Chip and Felix have the best race team out there. Chip has brought a lot of his Indy car style of racing over. I feel like we have the most professional, quality race team that there is. I can't imagine getting a better opportunity.

"He (Ganassi) told me the reason I got the job was because I had a good looking girlfriend. He told me a good looking girl didn't always get you the job, but an ugly one would definitely not get you the job. The girl had a lot to do with it.

"I told the guys if they could get me freed up I'd be good. I was so tight. We freed the car up on the first two or three pit stops, and I said man you need to go twice what you did. Just keep freeing it up. That last stop, I said that's plenty. I'm good right now. The caution came out four laps after we'd pitted, so we elected to stay out. The 18 got a run on me off four, and I was actually going to let him go. I thought I would tuck in behind him and follow him. I didn't know how good his car was versus mine. I ended up getting ahead of him and kept hitting my marks and started pulling away. It wasn't that I was going faster. They were calling my lap times off. I was running the same speed. It just seemed like he was a couple of tenths slower than I was. What was really on my mind when I started pulling away from him was that I needed to get far enough ahead that I can get in and out of the pits. I knew I was struggling there. They said I was a five-second leader when we pitted, but really that's what I was thinking about. Once I realized I pulled away from the 18, I thought I was going to win the race if I could just get in and out of the pits. I felt sure about it. Sure enough when I came back out, I realized he was behind me. I thought if I could just stay in front of him for 10 or 15 laps until my car tightens up a little bit we're going to be good.

"This race track is pretty tricky and if you hit the bumps going through three and four it seems like if your car is loose, you get really loose. If you're tight, you get really tight. I hit the bumps and just couldn't hold it on the bottom. If I can keep my car on the bottom in the center, I can drive off pretty much wide open and not even get close to the wall. If I missed it by a foot or two, I was junk coming off. When he would get up behind me, it would really make my car free. We noticed that in Happy Hour. It seems like when I could get four or five car lengths ahead of him, it didn't bother me near as bad. I think he just got close to me and I missed the corner a little bit and he got behind me. At the same time I knew if I could run two or three laps and hit my marks, I'm going to get back ahead of him far enough. You always hear about confidence and I had that tonight. I had a race car that was effortless to drive. I'm worn out after a Busch race. I don't know why, but this car was comfortable tonight. I was joking around with them on the radio with a hundred laps to go just trying to be funny or whatever because I was in that good of a mood, obviously because I was leading a Cup race, but I wasn't tired. My back didn't hurt. I wasn't hot. It's amazing when you're in the front of the field how much cooler your car is. When you're a lap down, it's the hottest thing in the whole world."

"Actually Tony (Glover) was making fun of me. He said, yeah, on a scale of 1-10, the first one (driving into pits) was a two and the second one was a five. I said yeah, I feel like a girl. I'll get Cielo (girlfriend Garcia) to drive it next time. I was just trying to be so cautious. I didn't want all the TV people to watch me spin out coming on to pit road and then rip on me for leading the race and spinning out of pit road. I was just trying to be cautious.

"The thing I learned this weekend running my Busch car and Cup car, for me being a rookie and not running a lot of laps at these tracks, the time I'm getting in my Busch car is really valuable, especially at a place like Charlotte where it's so hard to get around. I really feel like if I hadn't drove my Busch car this weekend I wouldn't be here right now. I feel like I learned a lot between the two, just the laps I got on the racetrack, especially with the rain we had. It cut the Busch practice short. I am still a rookie and I need more time on these tracks.

"He (Sterling) just told me good job. He's been incredible with all that's happened. I've tried to put myself in Sterling's shoes and how I would feel. I feel like he has treated me better than I would have treated someone. Not that I would be mean or anything, but it's just a tough situation. I think what makes it really hard on Sterling, he really doesn't feel hurt. It's not like he has this extreme pain in his back or something. He feels fine. When you're a racer, at least with me, you'll do anything to race and stay in the car, especially when you're going to run for a championship. It's so hard to be consistent week in and week out. Sterling has done that. It's a great race team, and he's done an incredible job to stay up there. He's been real supportive. Thursday we were terrible in qualifying trim. We were sitting on the coolers and Sterling came over and we were talking about what we had done. He was kind of making jokes or what not but trying to help. I think that was great. Sterling has just been incredible with what he's going through and very supportive of me and the whole team.

"Put yourself in my shoes. I haven't won a truck race or a Busch race and you're leading at a race track that you absolutely hated last year. I was nervous I was going to throw it all away in the last 10 laps, just going crazy, so many different things. I can't really explain what went through my head while I was out there. I was really trying to stay focused. I wasn't really worried about him getting up to me. I knew how my car was. I could catch people and be four or five tenths faster in a lap. I could catch 'em and couldn't do anything with 'em. I couldn't even get close enough to bump 'em. I felt like as long as he didn't get a good run on me in three and four I was going to be OK.

"We went and tested at Martinsville last Wednesday. I felt like we had a great test. Everybody told me how tough Martinsville was and how they didn't like it, that it was hard to drive and this and that. I felt like I adapted to it really well and we had a great test in qualifying trim and in race trim. I told my family and girlfriend that if I ran well at Charlotte, I was going to ask 'em if I could go. I would love to get to go. I don't get to qualify or anything. I've got to run the Busch race at Memphis, but I'd love to get to go to Martinsville."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray