JAMIE McMURRAY -- No. 26 IRWIN Marathon Tool Ford Fusion "I'd been in place in the white-flag lap a few times at the restrictor-plate races, and I just never put myself in the right position on the last. And, when I saw all the Hendrick cars,...
JAMIE McMURRAY -- No. 26 IRWIN Marathon Tool Ford Fusion
"I'd been in place in the white-flag lap a few times at the restrictor-plate races, and I just never put myself in the right position on the last. And, when I saw all the Hendrick cars, I think Jeff was leading and the 25 was second and the 48 was behind me, I was just pretty much committed to pushing those guys, because I felt like if I pulled out of line that I would only go backwards. But the way everything worked out I got good pushes. I had such a run on the 24 car just to pass him, and got to the lead. My car was really loose on the bottom, so I chose to let Kyle have the inside. I didn't think that I would be able to run the last four or five laps, just he and I, I don't know how many laps we ran. I felt like we would be put three-wide, whether someone would fill the middle or try to get on the outside of me. That's typically what happens, but no one was able to get that run.
"Carl had a really good run the last lap and could've made it three-wide, and fortunately he was an incredible teammate tonight. He ended up giving that push and that push is what helped get me to victory lane. I didn't even know it was the last lap, to be honest with you guys. I was on the backstretch, and I'm like, 'How many laps are left?' And Larry is like, 'This is it.' And I was like, 'Okay. I'll do my best.' And then we came off turn four, and everybody knows about the side draft that you get here, and it's so hard to time that out. I mean, it's just the luck of the draw. I noticed that Kyle had a run off the corner and I thought, 'Man, if I could just stall him, I'll be able to get the run back to the start-finish line.' And I did it. But I didn't know that I won. I actually hit the wall after crossing the start-finish line, and I wasn't sure I won; there was so much screaming on the radio and I couldn't tell. I didn't know if we were screaming because we were happy or we were screaming because we didn't know if we won. So, I was trying to just hold it all in until I was positive that we'd won."
LARRY CARTER -- crew chief, No. 26 IRWIN Marathon Tool Ford Fusion
"There's just a lot of work that goes into racing, so I guess in my mind I just started thinking, 'What do we have to do to go and try to get ready to try to win next week?' I'm not really putting it behind us, but we have to get ready for the next one. I've never been to victory lane at Daytona, and I'm really, really excited to do that. Jamie and I are, I think that makes two, now, so we're kind of on the same page with each other, so we'll just keep adding to our total, hopefully. As his grows, mine will grow a little bit. Just pretty excited to be here."
JACK ROUSH -- owner, No. 26 IRWIN Marathon Tool Ford Fusion
"Jamie, I'm sure, has had more trouble getting from me the things that would put him in this position consistently. And I've had trouble figuring out what I could do to put him in this position consistently. So I kind of threw it back to him late last year. I said, 'Jamie, I've made a number of changes in your team last year that I thought were good for you and it didn't work out. You're going to have to help me.' So Jamie went searching for -- he talked to everybody that I made available to be a crew chief for him within the team, and it just didn't feel right. It was not a human relationship that he thought would be as warm and as consoling and as challenging and would really be the combination in a crew chief that would bring out the very best in him. And so he went out and searched the garage area and came back with Larry Carter, was the guy that he thought he could do his business with. So then we had a conversation with Larry, and Larry was available and we put it together. The re-birth of this team, to do what we're doing with it this year, is Jamie first, at the center of it, and Larry second. My hat's off to them for doing such a great job.
"There's a lot of able people -- I'd like to think that everybody within our organization has got the skill sets for their job, they've got the skill sets to do what anybody else can do. But the human energy that chemistry brings between a crew chief and an engineer today and a driver is just remarkable. It's necessary to get more out of the people and out of the skills than the some of the parts. And to do that, Larry was a godsend to us."
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU'D AGREE WITH THIS, BUT KURT BUSCH SAID YOU'VE ALWAYS SHOWN SOME ABILITY HERE, BUT YOU LACKED PATIENCE. DO YOU FEEL THAT'S A CORRECT CHARACTERSISTIC?
McMurray: "Well, I've never finished well in the Daytona 500, but I've always run pretty well in the July race. I don't know if it's about patience. It could be. But I'd never put myself in exactly in the position that I needed to be in. A lot of the accidents that you get involved in at restrictor-plate races aren't of your doing, and certainly I maybe have caused one before, but I would say more than not you're just an innocent victim. We ran up front for the first part of the race and when I got penalized, I thought, 'I hope this doesn't put us in the position to get wrecked now.' And fortunately, there wasn't any big accidents and we were able to get out of that. I maybe haven't always put myself in the best position."
WHEN ALL THE SCREAMING DIED DOWN, HOW DID YOU LEARN YOU WON FINALLY? AND RIGHT NOW IS THE FEELING ELATION, RELIEF OR ALL OF THE ABOVE?
McMurray: "I'm not sure who told me I won. What happens on the radio is, obviously, when two people talk you can't hear, and so as I went into turn one I gave it a second for it to be clear, and I'm like, 'Who won?' And they were like, 'You did.' I don't know who said it. I just started beating my fist against the wheel and the leg braces, almost into pain, I was just so excited. When I won Charlotte, I had run some truck races and some Busch races, but I don't think I grew to appreciate how hard it is to win at this level. And after the year we had last year, I worked really hard getting my mind where it needed to be and at the same time getting my body in as good of physical shape as I could. My trainer is actually here this weekend. You know, getting up at 6:30 in the morning and working out every day and that's the things that initially crossed my mind was it was all worth it, you know? I can tell you this is more special to me and I'll appreciate this more than Charlotte -- mainly because I get to fly home and maybe have a couple of Crown Royal drinks and savor it. At Charlotte it was over and I went home and I went to sleep, and I didn't pu much thought into it. I probably won't go to sleep tonight. I'll probably go home and just think about it."
YOU SAID IN A RECENT INTERVIEW THAT YOU GO INTO EVERY RACE BELIEVING YOU CAN WIN THAT RACE. HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN THAT MINDSET OVER THE PAST 166 RACES? AND WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO TODAY'S RACE?
McMurray: "I believed I was going to win. Actually, the way that we unloaded, we didn't change anything -- maybe a little bit of air pressure. We unloaded pretty much how we ended. I know Larry made a few adjustments to the car with the fenders and a few small things, and the car was just really good from the time we unloaded . We didn't change anything. I told my Busch team the same thing I told Larry. I said, 'If we finish, we're going to finish good. We've got a great car.' You just never know when you come to a plate race whether there's going to be a wreck or what the circumstances are, but I believe if you go into every week believing you're going to sit on the pole and you're going to win the race, you need to do something different, because that's how all these other guys feel."
JAMIE SAID CARL HELPED HIM AT THE END. DO YOU TELL YOUR GUYS TO WORK TOGETHER OR IS IT EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF AND HOPE THEY MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES?
Roush: "It's every man for himself. The only thing that I've told the guys, the only orders are that you should make an effort to be respectful and to not exacerbate somebody else's problem by causing him to wreck, except for the last corner of the last lap. Then all bets are off. They can do whatever they want. A driver's code, I don't read much about it, but I've been a great student of it. A driver's code, the things he does on the race track among all the other drivers in the race and the quarter he gives and the quarter that he won't abide, the things that he won't let be done to him, depending on the circumstance. Mark Martin had a great code and I think everybody that's been a part of our organization has benefited from the standards that he set, which were very high. A driver can be a problem for his teammate or a problem for NASCAR or a problem for me, but he won't stay long."
WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND, AS FAR AS WORKING WITH TEAMMATES, AT THE END OF A RACE?
McMurray: "I think it's different with 25 -- Matt pushed me with 40 laps to go for about 15 laps, and he came on my radio during one of the breaks, and he was like, 'Look, I've got to run up high and I'll help you all I can,' and so he shoved me the whole time, the caution came out and we put tires on, and he said, 'I'll help you again, but if it gets down to five to go and you can win the race, don't worry about me.' I think that when it comes to your teammate, where that's a bigger deal, is if it comes to helping your teammate or helping someone else, then you would obviously choose your teammate. It's very difficult to continuously work with the guys on your team because there's so many different circumstances where you get put in and you don't always get put in that position where you can help, but I think you try to help as much as you can."
YOUR TEAMS HAVE BEEN GOOD THIS YEAR, BUT A STEP BEHIND SOME OTHERS -- UNTIL JUST RECENTLY. IS THAT BECAUSE OF THE CHANGES? IT SEEMS LIKE THINGS ARE STARTING TO CLICK NOW.
Roush: "The guys are doing a really nice job, Doug Yates and Robert overseeing the engine thing and they're doing a really nice job with that, and happily we didn't have an engine problem tonight; normally our engines have been really good. Engines are competitive and reliable, so that's good.
"We may have had more success than what was good for us on the mile-and-a-half race tracks with the car of today and the recent past. I'd say with the car of tomorrow and thinking about the things that we would do and trying to catch up with the seven-poster and agonizing over whether we were going to buy somebody else's tires and go test them like the other guys were doing, those things really had me busy, so we kind of got behind. We didn't run as good at some of the mile-and-a-half tracks as we'd like to, and I think that we're back on track there. The big thing that has helped us with the car of tomorrow, which has been one of our frustrations is the fact that we now have a test team, and we k now go out and are doing the things that I thought that we weren't going to be allowed to do when NASCAR came back and told us that we couldn't own the tires and it was clear that the reason we couldn't take the tires from the race track if they were leftovers was because they didn't want us to test, I thought they would put teeth in that, but they didn't. And so we got behind with the car of tomorrow, and then about five weeks ago I hired six people and dedicated a tractor trailer and we've been to Iowa and I think we went to Milwaukee four times in the last month, and we've been to Atlanta and to VIR in preparation for Sears Point, so maybe we were complacent, I was maybe complacent about the mile-and-a-half stuff we had in the past, thinking it was good enough, and then focusing on things in the future, and at the same time got behind doing the things that, say, the Hendrick organization was doing to its advantage as related to the testing of the car of tomorrow. We're not caught up on that yet, but we're certainly on the path and we'll be heard from more before the year is over."
ON THE MOVE TO WIN THE RACE.
McMurray: "The 25 car, I believe, was on older tires. I don't know that but I noticed he couldn't hold his car wide open, and I passed him in turns three and four and had a huge run on the top, and the 24 had a 10-car length lead and I had a huge run. I wouldn't have attempted to pass him unless I knew I could clear him, but I had such a big run there just wasn't anything he could do about it. You know when you look in your mirror and you see somebody coming whether you can block that or not, and I was coming so fast, he didn't even attempt to block me, I think. But I got to the lead and there was four or five laps to go or whatever, and I thought, 'It's not the time to be in the lead.' This is kind of the time when you need to be in second or third and get that run, because I don't know that leading is the best position to be in -- especially when there was three or four Hendrick cars all kind of tied up together. But I had Carl and Greg and Matt were all kind of in that, too, so I thought, well, if I do get hung out, one of these guys will come up and save me."
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET AFTER THE PENALTY?
McMurray: "Larry, one of his strong suits is that -- you can tell right now, I keep telling him, 'We won Daytona,' just trying to get a smile out of him and I can't really get a reaction -- he's not really high when things are great and he's not real down when things are bad. He just told me, 'You've got to do a stop-and-go. Don't slide your tires. Don't flat spot them.' He has a really good voice on the radio, and it's a very calming voice. Maybe it wouldn't be right for someone else. I experienced this race team when things weren't going well, so I really appreciate everything that he's done. It's early in the race, and when he doesn't get excited it's easy for me. If you have a crew chief that's all fired up, it's easy for you to get all fired up. So, his demeanor is always pretty calm."
Carter: "Like Jamie said, there wasn't a lot we could do about it, and you can basically look at the story in front of you and you can see that there's at these places that there's no cars that get laps down, so you know you're going to get the lucky dog. You know you've got a good race car, so it's kind of there for us to take advantage of and not panic. Jamie, my hat's off to him. He did a great job. He kept his composure and picked cars off one at a time, and drove back to the front. He said one time, 'I'm really loose,' and I said, 'It must not be too bad because you've gone from 35th to 10th.' I didn't say that, I was thinking it. So, I figured we were pretty good."
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN JAMIE?
Carter: "Obviously, Donnie Wingo is probably my best friend in the garage and he's been around this sport -- I think he was a crew chief when he was, like 9 years old -- and he has a lot of experience, and I was his crew chief for six years and learned a lot from him. When Donnie and Jamie worked together they ran well every week, so there was never a question in my mind could Jamie McMurray drive a race car. He's a fantastic race-car driver. So I felt like it was a good opportunity for me because when you're a crew chief, I've worked with some guys that maybe aren't as talented as other guys are and if you can align yourself with good race-car driver it can make you look good. Just like sitting up here tonight, it's not really me because this guy drove his tail off tonight. You try to make the best decisions you can for your career and your family and everything that's involved, and I just figured it would be a good situation for me. And, so far, it's working good."
ON THE EMOTIONS FOLLOWING THE VICTORY.
McMurray: "You work very hard for something, and I don't know that there's anyone who has went from the season that I had last year to getting a win at Daytona. And that's an emotional time. It's hard to explain to somebody that feeling of not only seeing your team work hard, but also you. Everyone knows the story about me buying a shock dyno because I wanted to learn more about that and it didn't help my racing career at all. Not even a little bit. It cost me 50 grand, and I still have it and that's kind of all there is to that story. So, I worked really hard this year to get my mind and my body -- I did everything I could. And when you work out every day and you do all that stuff and you're not winning, and we came so close at Sonoma, and I thought, 'Man, that was our chance.' We were there and we had it, and instead we finished 37th, so you almost taste it. And then you get to have it here, and finish in the way that we did, it's a little bit emotional and it's because you worked so hard for something and you finally get it. It's hard to explain to somebody, the feeling that you have."
-credit: ford racing