JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET and CHIP GANASSI, CO-OWNER OF EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway to discuss returning to Daytona as the reigning Daytona 500 Champion, winning...
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET and CHIP GANASSI, CO-OWNER OF EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway to discuss returning to Daytona as the reigning Daytona 500 Champion, winning both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 as an organization in the same year, the economy's effect on racing, and more.
YOU WERE THE WINNING CAR OWNER OF THE DAYTONA 500 AND WERE ALSO FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO WIN THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 DURING A VERY JOYFUL MONTH OF MAY. I ALSO REMEMBER A PHOTO MOMENT WITH YOU AND JAMIE AND BOTH TROPHIES, WHICH HAD TO BE A HIGHLIGHT FOR YOU.
GANASSI: "I certainly want to thank the people here at Daytona for bringing the Harley J. Earl trophy up to Indianapolis. That was up there the week before for Roger [Penske] and I to take a picture, but it completely slipped my mind the day after the race. It's kind of a neat thing. I heard that's the first time that that trophy has been out of the city of Daytona Beach, so we had some pretty cool pictures taken with Jamie and Dario. That was certainly the highlight of my summer up to that point."
DOES HEARING YOUR NAME AS THE DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION EVER GET OLD?
MCMURRAY: "Nope, not yet! It's been certainly a really exciting year and I think Chip talking about being in Indy with the trophies and with Dario and him that was something that I never really expected. It was really tiring getting up after Charlotte--I think we got up at 6 or 7 a.m. to fly up there, but to look back and get to see the photos now that was a really cool day. I'm really proud that I got to be a part of that."
YOU'VE OBVIOUSLY RUN REALLY WELL IN BOTH PLATE RACES THIS YEAR--1ST AT DAYTONA AND 2ND AT TALLADEGA--RUNNING WITH BOTH THE WING AND THE SPOILER. OBVIOUSLY THE SPOILER BROUGHT RECORD LEAD CHANGES TO TALLADEGA, SO WHAT DO YOU SEE THE SPOILER BRINGING TO THIS RACE? WILL IT BE A LOT DIFFERENT THAN TALLADEGA BECAUSE OF HANDLING, OR WILL THERE BE SIMILARITIES THERE?
MCMURRAY: "Well, first off, I think NASCAR deserves a lot of credit for making the right changes to the restrictor plate for the spoiler. When I heard how big the plate was going to be and they talked about how much more power the cars were going to make, I was just sure that we would make the first practice yesterday and that we would have a plate change because we were going to be going to quick. They did their homework and did a really good job at getting the appropriate plate on for the amount of drag that the spoiler makes versus the wing. The cars suck up really well like what we had at Talladega, and that makes for really good plate racing because you can get to the guy in front of you and you're able to really give him a push. If you're two or three cars back from the other row whether it is on the inside or the outside, you're able to make that pass.
"The cars are really fun to drive in practice. Handling is obviously way more critical here; it is irrelevant at Talladega. Talladega is just about getting in the right line and getting the right push. The cars are a handful here and it makes it probably more exciting from a driver's perspective because you've got a lot more going on and you've got to make your car handle well."
IN A BUSINESS WHERE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A DRIVER AND OWNER CAN BE SO FLEETING, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SECOND GO-AROUND WITH CHIP AND HOW YOUR RELATIONSHIP HAS CHANGED SINCE YOU'VE BEEN BACK AND HOW THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR SUCCESS?
MCMURRAY: "I'm really fortunate that Chip and I have a really good business relationship, obviously with me driving for him, but we're also friends. I spent a couple hours at his bus last night just talking and hanging out. I never really got to have that with Jack [Roush, former owner], and that is something that is important to me. I think that helps your performance on the track because you're comfortable with where you stand as a racing team. Chip and all of his guys, the whole team, do a really great job of including Juan [Pablo Montoya] and I in a lot of decisions, maybe not that we make decisions, but they talk to us and kind of let us know what's going on.
"That's really important I think to be able to have that kind of a relationship with your owner, so it's been really nice coming back and driving for Chip a second time around. I think he'd tell you the same. Our relationship is a lot better this time than it was the first time. I've grown up a lot and we just have a different relationship than what we had the first time."
YOU PROBABLY MEASURE SUCCESS ON A DAILY BASIS. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT ACHIEVEMENT [OF WINNING THE INDY 500 AND DAYTONA 500 IN THE SAME YEAR], HOW DO YOU TOP THIS? DO YOU CREATE ANOTHER GOAL AFTER YOU'VE WON THESE TWO SIGNIFICANT 500 RACES?
GANASSI: "There are lots of things I have to do in this sport yet; plenty of things. Right now, I need to get one or two of our cars working like hell to get one in the race. We obviously want to go win the Brickyard; we want to win this race [Coke 400 this weekend at Daytona]. We have lots of mountains; a lot is left on this mountain over here called NASCAR in terms of that. In terms of the other series as well that we're involved in, there is still lots of things to do there yet. Someone said to me, 'Well you've won Daytona and you've won Indy, you can quit now,' and I thought why would I want to do that. I don't look at it that way. I was never in it to say that I was going to win and then quit, so I don't know why I would do that now. That's not why I'm in it."
CHIP, ON THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THINGS, WE'RE HEARING THAT THE ECONOMY IS COMING BACK UP, BUT ON THE BUSINESS SIDE HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY SLIGHT UPSWING OR UPTAKE IN YOUR ECONOMY?
GANASSI: "One of the great things about this sport is that there are lots of great companies involved; we always hear all the time, 'lots of great companies are involved in NASCAR.' And it's true for in racing. The thing is, these are companies that are--let's face it, these companies that are in motorsports knew that something more than other companies did many, many years ago. The people that are involved in this sport are on the cutting edge. The bad side of that, is that when things start to go bad, they're the ones that know first when things are going bad. So
that's good or bad. The good part of that is that when things are getting better, I think they're the first ones to know as well. We're fortunate with our two cars and our two sponsors or three sponsors that--they haven't come out and said this to me, but I sense that there is a bit of an uptick in how things are with their companies just by their reaction and with the things they talk about. It seems to me that--look, I'm not an economist, I'm a race team owner--but it seems to me that things are ticking up a little bit, yes; at least in the companies that we're involved with."
WHEN YOU CAME BACK HERE THE FIRST TIME AFTER WINNING THE DAYTONA 500, WAS THERE EVER AN EMOTIONAL, 'OH MY GOD, I'VE WON THE DAYTONA 500?'
MCMURRAY: "No, it really wasn't any different to be honest with you. This wasn't my first time back; I came back last week to promote this race with Kevin VanDam. I don't know. I've always been excited to come to Daytona. When we used to come here and test in January there was just always something about coming to this racetrack, but it really wasn't any different after winning the 500. It was just, I think Chip said this a little earlier, you win a big race like that and I think those are things that you look back after you quit racing and you're like, 'that was really cool,' but it's all about next week and what you did last week. I don't know. My perspective on that is that it was awesome, and it's really exciting and it's fun to talk about, but it's all about what can you do this week."
HAVE YOU GONE OUT TO LOOK AT THE HOLE IN THE RACE TRACK? MCMURRAY: "I don't know. I only read what you write, Mike (Mulhern).(SMILES) I don't know. I've asked about it and they said that it wasn't anything and they were just looking at the track to make sure they don't have any more problems. The thing is guys, you can beat up on the race track, but, if they could have re-paved it between now and the 500, they would have. They are doing what they can. That is the way I view that. They have patched it and we hope that it is fixed. But if there is a problem, they are going to have to address that and it is out of our hands. You know what I mean? They can only just keep trying to repair it. They have had four or five months to fix it. I don't sense it they are going to fix it in 24 hours if the first patch didn't work. It is just the way it is and there is nothing the race track can do right now. So, you guys should take it easy on the track, it is kind of out of their control right now."
IS TOMORROW THE SECOND LONGEST DAY IN RACING FOR YOU? YOU HAVE THE GRAND AM RACE THEN YOU HAVE THE 400? ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IT? GANASSI: "I'm looking forward to it. Hey, that Grand Am Series, we are fortunate enough to be leading the points there. Looking forward to the race tomorrow. We've been on a pretty good role in that series. So, I hope to keep our winning ways going there. I think we have pretty good cars for tomorrow night. When I am done with that, I'm getting up Sunday morning and going to Watkins Glen for the IndyCar race so the Good Lord better not rain this thing out tomorrow night because I have plans on Sunday."
AS A CAR OWNER, ARE YOU KIND OF BORED WITH THIS HANDS OFF APPROACH BY NASCAR THAT PLACES MORE WEIGHT AND EMPHASIS ON ENTERTAINMENT? GANASSI: "I've always said that I don't think..I'm sort of a believer that you can make one move, you know what I mean? The second move is something that is intentional and that is when you start using your car as a weapon. I think we have to avoid using the cars as weapons. Having said that, I think I'm ok with one move. I'm not ok with two moves. But a lot of times, that one move was four laps ago that TV didn't get or you didn't hear about on the radio. I think you should...I'm sort of the opinion...does that make sense. I'm sorta ok with one move, I'm not ok with two moves. Two moves is getting kind of intentional. One move is kind of racing.
"I'm talking about any incident at all. In other words, once there is one move, whoever makes it, that is the move. Okay? Wherever you come out of that move, that is where you are. But a second move I think should be dealt with, I've always been of the opinion that the second move should be dealt with by the sanctioning body."
OBVIOUSLY THE HEARTBREAK LAST YEAR AT INDIANAPOLIS, HOW MUCH EMPHASIS IS BEING PLACED WITH THAT RACE COMING UP LATER THIS MONTH FOR NOT ONLY JAMIE, BUT FOR (JUAN PABLO) MONTOYA TO WIN? GANASSI: "The fact of the matter is that we've got every waking moment of our life is focused on Indianapolis and getting back what we left there last year. Ok, that's not true. We approach every race the same as every other one. We give it 100% of our effort, every week, every race. Indianapolis is no different than Daytona. It is no different than New Hampshire. No different than Talladega or Bristol or anywhere else. We are going to go back there and give it 100%. We aren't going to give it 120%, we're not going to give it 99%...we'll give it 100%."
IS YOUR FATHER HERE THIS WEEKEND AND WILL HE STAY THE ENTIRE RACE? MCMURRAY: "No, he didn't come this weekend. He's at home so he will probably stick around the entire race on TV."
TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS WHEN YOU GO TO INDIANAPOLIS: MCMURRAY: "Indy is really special, but for me, I came here (Daytona) when I was 10 years old racing go karts. This was always the place that was kind of special to me. I could make up a story for you if you want, Indy is not the same thing to me as what coming to Daytona is."
IT HAS BEEN KIND OF A ROUGH YEAR FOR JUAN PABLO MONTOYA. THERE HAS BEEN PLENTY OF SPEED EVERYWHERE, BUT NOT THE RESULTS. WHAT IS THE ASSESSMENT OF HIS SEASON SO FAR AND WOULD YOU BE DISAPPOINTED IF HE IS NOT IN THE CHASE AGAIN?
GANASSI: "Certainly if we are not in the Chase, I'll be disappointed. Like I said, it is not a death-blow or anything, but I certainly will be disappointed. It is easy to look back at races and results and sharp-shoot the reason. The fact of the matter is, none of us are there at the time and driving the cars. And even fewer of us are listening to what's going on and have some understanding of what is going on in the race at the time. It's easy to go back and point to things or sharp shoot decisions. We win as a team, we lose as a team and I'm sure Juan and Jamie are both doing their best job week-in and week-out. They're giving us everything they can and that is all you can ask for. Have there been mistakes made? Sure. Is everybody mistake-free? No. Everybody on this team and other teams, makes mistakes and all you can do is learn from those mistakes and move on and hope you don't have too many of them."
-source: gm racing