Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2003 Jamie McMurray and Chip Ganassi JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid) WHAT'S YOUR OPINION OF RECENT OFF-TRACK ACTION? "I think it's been happening for years. It just seems to be ...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2003 Jamie McMurray and Chip Ganassi
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid)
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION OF RECENT OFF-TRACK ACTION?
"I think it's been happening for years. It just seems to be happening more often now. I guess we had it two nights in a row this week. I pretty much agree with what Chip is saying. Maybe just put the penalty out there for when those actions happen so everybody would know what they're getting themselves into. You're going to have racing accidents. I don't think the 21 meant to get into the 29. I watched it on TV and it just looked to me like a racing deal. When the 29 crew members started jumping up and down on Ricky Rudd's car, that's uncalled for. There's no point in creating more work for the crew members than what was already there. What happens between drivers on a race track doesn't need to come into the pits and then come between crew members. It has nothing to do with those guys. It has to do with the drivers on the track."
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WITH FUTURE SCHEDULES?
"I would like to see more Saturday night races. It doesn't have to be every Saturday night. We raced on Saturday evening and you have a Sunday to do what you want to do. A lot of times I don't have to go do something on Monday, but Mondays aren't the same as Sunday. When I know the guys are at the shop, I have a hard time not going there. The fact when you get Sunday off no one is there, and it makes it easier to be able to go and relax. I'd like to see more Saturday evening races."
IS IT TOUGH MEETING DEMAND OF SCHEDULE?
"I think it's tough your first year trying to get used to it. People tried to explain to me how much busier it was in Winston Cup than the Busch Series. I think the Busch Series runs 36 races like the Winston Cup, but you do more stuff for your sponsor. It's not so much for your sponsor, but we do stuff for Dodge, Action. In the Busch Series I never did an appearance for a manufacturer or for Action or a souvenir maker. There's a lot of other little things thrown on top of that. I know when Brian Vickers got signed the other day, I almost thought about calling him. Jimmie Johnson called me when he found out I was going to drive for Chip and Felix this year. He said 'your life is getting ready to change.' I didn't really take it to heart. I said, 'well, OK Jimmie, I understand' and kinda went on, but when you get ready to go through it and they put you through this 20-race stretch... We've had good races. The racing has been a lot of fun for me. The last eight weeks, we've had a shot to win three or four races. I look forward to going to the racetrack each weekend, but there are a lot of appearances and it's really tough. I don't think you realize it until it's all there. When I looked at my schedule, I said, 'oh, that's not too bad.' But when you start flying to the west coast and fly back for a race, these races are long. They wear you out. Compared to the Busch Series, if you have a tiring race on Saturday, you get all day Sunday to rest up. With the Cup schedule, you do it on Sunday and then you have to go again on Monday. They throw all the testing in on top of that. It's very tiring, but I joke around with everybody. I'm doing what I love. If they'd go to test every week I'd do it because you love this. I can't imagine wanting to do anything else. It's tough, but it's worth it."
ARE YOU ON SCHEDULE FOR THIS PART OF THE SEASON?
"I didn't sit down over the winter and say, I want to win a race by here or do this, but for me, we started off the season at Rockingham with a top five. I think that might have set my goals and the team's goals a little bit high right from the get-go. We all knew it was a brand new race team, and even though it's all the same equipment that Casey and Sterling have and the same equipment that I won in the year before with the 40 team, this sport is all about the people around you and all about those people working well together. That's something my team keeps getting stronger at every week. Our pit stops are getting so much better. It's not just that, but my group of guys that are working on the car. Everybody is just like I am right now on my team. They're all excited every single week to go to the racetrack, and everybody believes in each other. My team believes in me, and I believe in them and I believe in Donnie (crew chief Wingo). That's something you can't buy and something you can't make happen. It just happens over time and you just hope you put the right people together. I think Chip and Felix and Tony assembled a real good group of guys for me, and it's all working out. You race a lot of times and your finish doesn't necessarily show how you raced that day. For us, in the last six races I think we've had two thirds and a fourth and led all those races and had a shot to win 'em all, so our team is on the verge of winning a race right now, and I'm real excited about that. I think you're just going to see us get better as the year goes on and hopefully into next season it's going to continue to do the same thing. I don't know where I was going to be at this time, but I'm pretty excited about where I am right now."
HOW MUCH RACE STRATEGY IS DISCUSSED BEFORE THE RACE?
"It's something that Chip and Felix really big about, having these meetings before every race. I know you guys have heard about how our transporters are set up. The 40 hauler is just an engineering hauler. All three teams meet there 45 minutes before the drivers' meeting every Sunday. All the engineers from all three teams and all the crew chiefs go over how far we can go on fuel, what two tires will do versus four tires, just the whole race. They go over the past four or five years what's happened and what's going to happen for that day. I have a pretty good idea in my head how far we can go on fuel mileage, what our get home lap is going to be. Really, that's the way these races are run right now. If you can make it on fuel, with the exception of Darlington, at Richmond they said when you get to lap 260 if the caution comes out that's the last time we're going to stop. That's the way you run these races right now. Strategy is huge. I would like for it to go back. I liked it at Darlington because every time you caution came out you had to pit. Even though it probably cost us the race because we came in leading and went out fourth and that's where we finished. You want to get your car adjusted where it's going to be right so when you make that last pit stop, even if there's a hundred laps to go, you get it right. I don't know that you're going to make it different. It's not that the racing is different. It's just that the teams are so close now. There are 20 teams that are really fast right now. I think the reason it wasn't like that 10 years was maybe because only 10 teams were fast. You could pit and even if you came out 20th you could work your way back up. Now, everything is so close, I don't think you're going to fix it with spoiler or front air dam or softer tires. I don't think that's the cure. I think our racing is so competitive right now that it's just going to be that way for awhile."
APPARENTLY THERE'S NO BREAK NEXT SEASON BETWEEN SONOMA AND DAYTONA. IS THAT A PROBLEM?
"I think it'll be harder on the crew guys than on the driver. For us, we're going to fly there and we're not preparing cars week to week. It doesn't matter to me. I'm open either way."
ARE YOU MORE PATIENT OR AGGRESSIVE AS SEASON PROGRESSES?
"Maybe a little bit of both, probably more patient when I need to be. The thing I've learned about Winston Cup racing is you can let a guy go and not race him early on in the race. He'll return that favor later on. The races are so long and the cars change so much you have to adjust on 'em. I'm probably more aggressive at the end than what I was at the beginning of the year. I feel like I've gained respect from some of the guys and they know I'm supposed to be there now. I think at the beginning of the year you have to earn that respect. That car number and that car hasn't really been there before, so I feel like now they understand we've run up front quite a little bit and that you're supposed to be there and that makes it easier on me to be more aggressive and to be more racy at the end of the race."