Continued from part 1 Q: Jamie, I'm sure a lot of drivers after the race had opinions on two of the bigger issues or underlying stories of the race. What were your thoughts on the 'green-white-checkered', how many there were, and ...
Continued from part 1
Q: Jamie, I'm sure a lot of drivers after the race had opinions on two of the bigger issues or underlying stories of the race. What were your thoughts on the 'green-white-checkered', how many there were, and the hole?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I thought that NASCAR and the track did a really good job trying to get it fixed. I mean, the people -- I don't think the Daytona 500 should ever end early. Obviously when it rains and there's exceptions to this, but I thought that they did a really good job. I was asking numerous times, What are they doing to fix it, what is the problem. There were some issues over there. I thought they did a really good job of getting it fixed. Once they figured out a solution for it, we didn't sit out of the cars for quite so long. I thought they did a really good job of getting it fixed.
The three 'green-white-checkereds,' I was not a big fan of that on Thursday when they made the announcement of it, but now I am, because I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that.
NASCAR has went out of their way with the rules package and everything they've done to make the fans happy. And it's not necessarily -- I think if you would have asked all the drivers, they wouldn't have wanted the three 'green-white-checkereds,' but they're doing what they can for the fans. That's what it's all about. That's what's built this sport. I think everything was fine there.
Q: You guys are up on the pit box. It's out of your control. Your thoughts when he squeezed himself into that No. 1 spot and you knew there was a long way to go before he got back to the finish line. Talk about the highs and the anxiousness that goes on.
CHIP GANASSI: I can tell you this, this is the only sport where your eyes can deceive you. When you see your car in the lead there, you know there's a 'green-white-checkered', you see your car in the lead, you go, Okay, is this really the lead or did we go through the last loop?
You're thinking all the things -- it takes you about 10 seconds for it to sink in that you're in the lead, believe me. That's my view.
FELIX SABATES: Actually, I felt pretty good when I saw that 16 car behind him because I know they're friends. He didn't smack him. He pull up to him and pushed him gently. When he did that, I felt pretty good. I was hoping a big wreck would happen behind us. I didn't care if it was the 42 car that wrecked behind us (laughter).
No, I just wanted the race to end. And it ended. That's all that counts.
KEVIN MANION: Same. It was right in front of us on the last lap when we took the white, is where Greg had a great run and dove under us. I kind of just closed my eyes and listened to the spotter. You're pretty much looking straight out on pit road. We have some monitors that we can watch TV. I felt more comfortable with my eyes closed. I'm somewhat of a quiet person. You know, just gathered your thoughts and listened to the spotter.
I heard the 88, big push. You know, that's what you hear, Big push, big push, clear, clear, the 16, okay, out of four.
And then it was, You're coming to the checkered flag. So it was a minute or so by the time he passed us. That's what it takes. It was exciting, very emotional one lap. I'm glad it worked out the way it did.
Q: Jamie, you made a deal with the 29 that you were going to go with him and shove him. There was a report that you made a deal with the 29. I think at that point you had the opportunity to go with him or push the 56 up high. If you don't make that deal, do you still push the 29?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, the 29 just, you know, spotter came over and told mine, you know, Just push the hell out of me. That's exactly what they said. The 29 was really good on restarts. The Shootout, the duels, every restart he was able to push the guy in front of him.
So when he pushed Martin, he did the same thing he did in the Shootout, he pushed him so far, tried to duck inside of him, just like the Shootout. Martin came down and block a little better than whoever it was in the Shootout race. When that happened, it killed our momentum.
Honestly, I mean, you know, you make decisions on the racetrack. It's not always based on your friendship. At that point, you're like, I want to win the race and I'm going to do whatever I have to to win the race. It was better for me to push Kevin at that point. If it would have been opposite, I would have went with whoever would have benefited me the most. Because when it comes down to the last lap, you certainly can have friends, but this is about winning. It wouldn't really matter to me if someone was pissed off afterwards, because it's the Daytona 500.
Q: Chip and Felix, you guys have been beaten up a little bit over the past couple years. You had success early when Chip first came in, and it dropped off, you took your lumps and criticism. Now you came back last year with Juan. Can you talk about the validation this victory gives you. It wasn't Juan, it wasn't the 42 team, it's was your second car. It shows that you really are players here.
CHIP GANASSI: It's not with our second car, first of all, it's with the other car. We don't have a one, two car. All the cars get all the stuff. That's the mantra of all of our teams. We don't have a No. 1 driver. We have two No. 1 drivers. You know, all the drivers know that.
So there's no, I don't know, taking a lot of lumps over the last couple years. Like I said earlier, we have to spend our money a little wiser than some teams. I'm not ashamed of that at all.
Felix can talk more about that.
FELIX SABATES: I guess we won't be bringing the boat back ever again (laughter).
We got beat up a little bit, but mostly by some of the people in this room, the press, we've taken our criticism. But Chip is a very focused person. If you cut his veins, he got motor oil coming out of 'em. He never wavered from the plan he had. Sometimes it takes a lot of money to implement these plans. Money these days don't grow on trees.
We always looked to both our teams as being one team. We don't have a one car and a two car. We got one car that have two drivers. That's what's going to make us successful.
You know, look for big things this year. I was very excited when Jamie came back with us because I always liked Jamie. Last night at dinner, I told him, we're going to be in Victory Lane together tomorrow. Sometimes you have a feeling something is going to happen. I had that feeling. I thought that he will win this race. We here.
But we will get better. Association with Childress, with the engines, has been a blessing. I didn't hear anybody last year complain about engines. Before we always had complaints about engines. We'll do well this year.
Q: Jamie, when you say you always dreamed about winning the Daytona 500 when you were a little kid, can you take us back a little bit, some of the people, tracks that you were thinking of? Was your dad a driver? Talk about that relationship in racing.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, my dad raced a lot, did a lot of drag racing, some stockcar racing on dirt, a little bit on asphalt. My dad sells and buys a lot of stuff. He really enjoys -- I joke around, he's like Sanford and Son. He loves to buy and sell. It's kind of his hobby.
He had sold a stockcar. The guy didn't have enough cash. There was a go-kart in the corner, I'll take the go-kart to make up for the difference. He started riding this go-kart. Then we started doing it together as a family.
I grew up racing go-karts. I raced at I-70, Lakeside, Lebanon, Bolivar, Missouri, modifieds, late models. Mike Mittler really gave me my first big break. I owe a lot to him. He gave Carl Edwards his break.
I mean, I assume everyone in this room knows the history of Mittler Brothers Truck team. But he gave me a great opportunity. Honestly, my dad is the one that made all that happen, because Mike had called my dad a few years earlier and said, I'd like to put Jamie in my truck.
My dad was like, I don't think he's ready to do that yet.
Mike said, That means a lot that you didn't throw your kid at me because most parents would. Whenever you think Jamie is ready, I want you to give me a call.
A few years later, my dad called, said he thought I was ready. So Mike is the one that really gave me a big break from racing late models. I remember coming down here with him for the first time and running the truck race they had here in '99.
Gosh, I watched the truck race last night. I watched the Nationwide race. You see the guys get out in Victory Lane. Daytona is just really special. When I won here at the July race, I mean, it's really special to get to win here. But you just can't explain to somebody what it's like to win the Daytona 500. Just nobody in this room, until you are that guy, will you ever understand it.
Q: Jamie and Kevin, when it comes to restrictor plate races, the best car doesn't always win the race. Up until those final two laps, yours maybe was not one that was counted as the best car on the racetrack. Did you feel prior to those two laps that you had a legitimate chance to win this race? If so, why?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, Chip asked me under one of the red flags, What do you think of your car?
I told him, We'll find out when it comes time to go.
Everybody early on in the race, you can see a lot of give and take. If there's a small hole, guys were giving room. When it comes down to the last few laps, it's not that way. Then you find out who really has a good car.
But Kevin made a really good decision on staying out, not pitting at the end. I have no idea why those guys pitted. We saw Jimmie Johnson win the duel, you know, with no tires. So I didn't understand that, why anybody would have pitted at that point, knowing it was going to be a couple of 'green-white-checkereds.' So he made a good decision to keep us out.
You know, it just all worked out. Honestly I wanted the bottom. I felt my car was better to be on the bottom. When I had to restart on the outside, I didn't want to be there. Typically that's where I've gotten wrecked here, being on the outside. When I had to line up on the outside, I was like, This is not where I want to be right now, but it worked out.
KEVIN MANION: Any time you can put yourself in a position in the later stage of the race, you have a chance to win. I think we showed last Saturday we had a good car. We were a little too loose during the daytime. I think when the sun went down with the two delays, we had, at one time, a track temperature change of close to 15 degrees. I think on that last run, one of my key factors of staying out, we made the second red flag, Jamie and I was able to talk, and we were able to make a small air pressure adjustment. To do that, we had to take four tires because we felt it was going to go to the end.
Doing that four tires, we were able to, you know, just pick off a little bit of position, a little bit of position. Next thing you know, through the 'green-white-checkereds,' we go from 10th, to 9th, to 8th, before you know it, you're in the front row. We led the important lap.
But to answer your question, I think when the sun went down, the car really came to us, real similar to setup last Saturday night. I was excited to see the cool temperatures. It definitely, definitely gained a lot of speed in just that last 38 laps, for sure.
Q: Chip, I understand that Teresa was not here today. Have you had a chance to talk to her since the race?
CHIP GANASSI: I haven't. Certainly we talked the other day. She said, Good luck. I know she watches, is interested.
Q: What does it mean for you to win this race for her?
CHIP GANASSI: This business is about -- it's very inclusionary. You got to include people. It takes a team. I always say that. It takes a team. You know, I don't have all the skills it takes. That's why I got this guy sitting on my left and people like Teresa. You know, it takes a lot, a lot of effort on a lot of people's part.
I'm lucky that I have Felix and Teresa with me, because sometimes I'm at some other races somewhere, and they're standing in when I need them. Certainly they can pick the ball up and run anytime they want, they know. It's good to have great partners.
Q: Jamie, is your dad 62 or 63?
JAMIE McMURRAY: He was born 8/18/47.
Q: How much different are you from the first time you raced for Chip? To be able to share the biggest win of your career on Valentine's Day with your wife.
JAMIE McMURRAY: That's pretty exciting. I'm supposed to give her a back rub tonight. I think I'm going to get out of it tonight, though (smiling).
I don't even know what you asked me. I got to thinking about rubbing her back (smiling).
What did you ask me?
Q: Basically how different are you than you were the first go round with Chip?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, when I first came and drove for Chip and Felix in 2002, I was very overwhelmed with the environment that I was put in. That was big shoes to get in Sterling's car. I mean, huge learning curve.
Certainly coming back here, it's way different. I mean, I'm at a different point in my life. Like you say, I'm married. You know, your nightlife is a lot different. Just everything's different. I mean, it is. I go to bed at 8:30 at night. Jenna knows that because she tries to keep up with me.
But I also like to get up early. I go to sleep early so I can get up early. Everybody makes fun of me for that, but I think that's what normal people do.
But it is, I mean, at a different point in my life, for sure. I mean, it's just great to be back here and be a part of this. You know, I've spent the last 11 days here in Daytona. I think some of the best stuff is being able to just call Chip or Felix. Chip and I went out and ate lunch, went out and ate dinner. He's my car owner, but he's also my friend. I think that's really important.
I think that's something that, you know, I haven't had in the last four years. I think that is something that's very important to me.
Q: Jamie, after you finished screaming for joy, you obviously had some time to drive around the backstretch. What were you thinking in the racecar?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I don't even remember. I really don't. I was thinking -- everyone kept running into me, when you're going around slow. I don't know. Man, I really don't remember. I came to the frontstretch. I cut a couple of doughnuts. I think burnout is pretty cool, but kind of overrated. I was like, I'll do a little burnout. I've seen so many people get out after winning the 500 and stand on their car. I haven't won a ton of races. And I thought, I'm going to get out, stand on my car and listen to all these people scream.
I got to tell you, it was a great feeling. It was just unbelievable. I ran up and got the flag. When I came back, running down the hill, I saw Daytona 500 painted in the grass. I kneeled down. I was like, This is just unreal right now.
Q: Jamie, did all of the go-kart racing and the Grand-Am experience give you an edge? Do you think some more of the NASCAR drivers might be thinking about taking up go-karts?
JAMIE McMURRAY: No. I do go-kart racing, first off, because I get to do it with my dad. But I love racing go-karts. My favorite part of the go-karting is to go and see a five-year-old kid that weighs 60 pounds or 40 pounds with a 10-pound helmet on his head. I remember those days. I watch them with their dads, kind of see everything, what's going on. It's fun. I mean, that's why I do that.
When Chip asked me to do the Grand-Am race, it's the same thing. I think every time you get in a full-sized racecar and you get to do a road course, you learn a little bit. I got to do it with three other really talented road-racing drivers. Those cars have telemetry on it. You can overlay their laps versus yours. I thought it's a great learning experience. And the same thing, it's fun. It's a lot of fun to get to come down and be a part of.
I mean, Chip's teams in the Rolex Series are the best ones, bar none. To get to be a driver in that, I just did it because I wanted to and it was a fun opportunity.
Q: Jamie, your buddy Greg Biffle was pushing you there at the end. Tell me what you think about that. Also he said you owe him dinner.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I will buy him dinner for sure.
You know, I've already kind of said this a couple times, so...
The thing with Greg is, when you get out there, I knew that Greg and I have a good friendship. You know, our wives hang out. It's a different friendship than just the motorhome lot that you maybe have with other drivers. And I've been Greg's teammate for the last three or four years.
I somewhat know how Greg races. Greg is a really smart driver. And, you know, if I would have been in his position and he'd had been leading, I would have been right behind, I would have done the same thing. I would have pushed him as far as I could. The goal, guys, when you see those guys get locked up, is you want to clear the front bumper of the car beside you. Once you break that plane, you can get away from them. If you can't break that plane, then you stall out, and that's when you see the inside row come back up.
So when Greg got ahold of me so early coming off of turn two, you can feel him shoving, and the engine's just revving like crazy, like it hasn't all night, I'm like, We're going to clear them, this is going to work out perfect.
Yeah, I mean, you just got to have help. Certainly having a good friend behind you is important.
Kevin, Jamie, Chip, Felix, congratulations on winning the Daytona 500. Thank you very much.