CHIP GANASSI, TEAM OWNER; JAMIE MCMURRY, DRIVER AND KEVIN "BONO" MANION, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed the announcement of Jamie as driver for 2010, the goal...
CHIP GANASSI, TEAM OWNER; JAMIE MCMURRY, DRIVER AND KEVIN "BONO" MANION, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed the announcement of Jamie as driver for 2010, the goal of the team for 2010 and other topics:
TELL US ABOUT THE RECENT ANNOUCEMENT THAT JAMIE MCMURRAY WAS RETURNING TO EARNHARDT-GANASSI RACING TO DRIVE THE NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET. CHIP GANASSI: "You know I think as everybody in the room probably knows, we have first-hand knowledge of Jamie McMurray and the job he can do. I think it's interesting to me, the one thing that sticks in my mind is the three years he was with us that first year obviously having the win there down in Charlotte which was huge but really the second and third years everybody forgets that when we got to Richmond those years and the first years of the Chase we were 11th and they only took 10 guys in the Chase and we were 11th. I think the second year we were 12th and that's when they were only taking 10 guys in the Chase. I know I forgot that. It seemed at the time like that wasn't that big of a deal to do and we've all found out since that it is a big deal to do. So I'm really happy to have Jamie back. I think in the days of 2004 whenever he told me he was going to be leaving that was a different time in NASCAR then. I remember telling him that day he was making the right decision, when he left us. Those were the days when it looked like he needed a big, four cars team. I hope our team has shown this year maybe you don't need to have all that to do well. Anyway that's the drum that I'm going to beat for a while but I think it's got some merit to it. You can be a good team and maybe not need six cars on your team or whatever.
"I'm looking forward to having Jamie back. You know it's important at this level to understand what makes a guy tick. It's much more than the car and the engine and just plugging somebody in the seat. At this level of any sport it takes intimate knowledge of the athlete as well so I think that's on our side as well and I'm looking forward to it."
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT CREWING THE CAR NEXT YEAR FOR JAMIE MCMURRAY. KEVIN MANION: "I can't wait to get started to be honest with you. I've been talking with Jamie a lot here in the last week and I've got some tests planned for December. It sounds like they made that top-12 rule for Chip, he finished 10th and 11th it sounded like. Our definite goal is to make the Chase. Hopefully that will all work out well. I always hate when a season ends but looking really forward to a lot of great things happening at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. I think Juan has one of the new cars here for 2010 and its really quick. We had a new car last week and it was really quick at Phoenix so I think the future is bright and can't wait to get started."
CONGRATULATIONS ON REUNITING WITH A TEAM YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH AND THAT WIN AT TALLADEGA HAD TO BE BIG FOR YOU'RE A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO. JAMIE MCMURRAY: "Certainly getting the win at Talladega was good timing for everything in my life. I hadn't really thought about it until I heard Chip just say it now, I remember going to Chip when I left in 2004-2005 and telling him the opportunities I had in front of me and I was expecting him to put up a fight and tell me that wasn't going to be the right thing and he honestly, just what he said I think that's probably going to be what's best for you right now. There are a lot of advantages with being with an organization as large as Roush. When things are going well, things are really good. You have a lot of data, a lot of drivers to learn from. Certainly a tremendous amount of employees whether it's in the fab shop or finish fab. The down side to that is when things aren't going well, it's a big ship and it takes a long time to get it turned around. I went and signed my contract on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week and hadn't been in the Ganassi shop in years and just really, really impressed with the cars.
"I saw a car on the chassis jig and just the amount of detail that they put in their cars. I think it's a little bit harder for the larger teams to do because you are building so many cars and mass producing so much stuff that when you're not building so many maybe you can take a little more time and detail the cars out a little bit more. Obviously the speed has been there. The No. 42 car has been one of the better cars the last 10 or 12 races and the No. 1 car has had the speed in it they just haven't been able to get the finishes. So it's a great time to go back and be a part of Chip's program and I'm just ready to get testing under way and just get back in a car and get the lingo down with him and get to meet all the guys and get used to working with each other again."
CHIP - I WAS WONDERING WHAT YOUR COMMENT WAS ABOUT THE FACT THAT SORT OF ONE OF THE HIDDEN STATS IN RECENT YEARS IS THAT YOU HAVE HAD THREE DRIVERS JAMIE, CASEY MEARS AND REED SORENSON WHO HAVE DONE BETTER IN THE POINTS WITH YOU THAN THEY HAVE SUBSEQUENTLY AND I WAS JUST WONDERING WHAT YOUR COMMENTS WERE ON THAT? "I'm not sure I have a good answer for that. You know I don't know. That's for you guys to decide not me. I'm not good at talking about myself or whatever. We work every day at this business and try to get the most out of what we have whether it's our drivers or our crew chiefs or engineers or people in the shop, we try to get the most out of everybody. I mean our team is of the size that we need to get the most out of everybody on a regular basis to sustain ourselves especially in the last couple of years. I don't know, I would like to think we work a little harder at that."
JAMIE - YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW THE ORGANIZATION WAS DIFFERENT AT ROUSH AND CHIP WAS TALKING ABOUT WHEN YOU LEFT THERE, HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED DURING THAT TIME? DID YOU LEARN A LOT FROM ROUSH THAT YOU CAN TAKE INTO THE ORGANIZATION NOW? "I know that. When I was at Chip's organization before the media does a really good job talking about Hendrick or Roush and everything they have. I think whether you're just an employee of Chip's team or a driver, whatever you are when you listen to enough of that you start to believe they have better cars or people or equipment and for me going to Roush was somewhat of an eye opener in that there wasn't a magic button or a magic set of shocks or any magic. It certainly is like what Chip said a tremendous amount of hard work. They've got great drivers at all those organizations but I think for anyone that's maybe never been at one of those two or three largest organizations you just don't realize that there's not any magic there. It's the same thing. It's just about putting the time in. It's no secret I thought whenever I left Chip's I would be able to finish third, fourth or fifth in the points instead of 11th each year. My time at Roush hasn't been as good as what I had at Ganassi. I would assume that I've learned a lot but I think a lot of it is stuff I probably can't explain to you guys that's just something as a driver that you witness first-hand and the grass is not always greener on the other side and that's something that Felix (Sabates) told me when I left. He wasn't as encouraging as Chip at the time. I will have to buy him dinner I assume sometime in the next few weeks."
CHIP, THIS IS FOR YOU. COULD YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU BRING GUYS BACK? "When you're in this business day in and day out, normally you know the truth about people or deals. I'm not media bashing, but what I'm saying is there is so much to talk about that I'm not sure that's always the real story that makes it into the public. When you're here on a daily basis you know what these people are made up of and hopefully you know what their hot buttons are and are not. I certainly think over the years I've changed probably in racing as well. It is possible to bring a driver into your organization again or keep him in the organization or bring guys back. I've said before, these teams are balanced. Teams are a balance of people and of equipment and of engines and chassis. But it's balance. At the end of the day it comes down to the people and we've all seen it before where drivers look to go to an organization and on paper it looks great and Jamie is certainly not the only guy who has ever experienced that. And so we can point to four or five drivers currently that on paper you sure would think things would be better for them and they're not. So it goes back to that balance of people and so you never say never about somebody coming back into your organization. And at the same time, I don't think coming back here is going to be a layup for Jamie. This is a lot of hard work. You have to want to be in this business. Obviously these days you don't get into NASCAR because of all the money you can make. You have to want to do this. You have to want to race cars. And I've said that so many times in this sport. At the end of the day, this sport's about racing. There are a lot of side shows and a lot of hoopla, but at the end of the day it's about being in front of everybody else or being in front of your competition and passing cars and checkered flags. It's not about the side shows."
CHIP, YOU OBVIOUSLY TOOK A BIG STEP THIS YEAR GETTING INTO THE CHASE. HOW DO YOU TAKE THAT NEXT STEP AND MOVE IN FRONT OF THE NO. 48? CAN YOU APPROACH NEXT YEAR WITH THE HOPE THAT YOU CAN BEAT THOSE GUYS? "There are probably 42 other guys you could ask that question to. I wish I had a good answer for you how we get in front of the No. 48. I know that any other time we've made a step, you can only look at what helped you make that step and try to do that better or bigger. At the end of the day, it's hard work and it's making your stuff work and it's getting the most out of your people. A lot of its mental. A lot of it is in your head. A lot of it is in your people or your engines. That's what's so challenging about this sport. It takes so many things to be good and to be in that lead group. That's quite frankly what the attraction is."
JAMIE, THERE IS A GROUP OF DRIVERS FROM KANSAS AND MISSOURI, AND YOU GUYS ALL GREW UP KEEPING TRACK OF EACH OTHER. YOU'VE GOT THE ONE WIN OUT OF THAT TRIO THIS YEAR WHEN CARL EDWARDS AND CLINT BOWYER DIDN'T WIN A RACE. TALK ABOUT HOW THAT BOOSTED YOUR SEASON "Well, certainly winning is what it's all about. I think more than anything, looking back at that, with the amount of races that Carl was able to win last year and where the RCR cars were last year just shows how fast it changes. When we first started dealing with the COT car and bump stops and different parts that make these cars quick, I feel like everybody kind of thought they had the bump stops figured out and they had the set-ups going and they just keep changing and it's hard to always be the car that's the fastest and have that set-up that works. And so Carl won nine races last year and certainly hasn't really been in the position to win maybe a couple this year. So it's great to be one of the guys that's won, but not just for that, but more than anything just because it's just awesome to win."
JAMIE, HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK TO JUAN PABLO SINCE THE SIGNING AND DO YOU EXPECT TO PICKUP SOMETHING FROM HIM? WHAT CAN HE LEARN FROM YOU "I did talk to Juan at the Daytona tire test. I saw him in the lobby. It's weird because you assume you're together every week and you just hang out and chat. But you both have commitments and I just haven't had a lot of time to go to his motor home. So I saw him at the Daytona tire test and I've talked with him. I think it would be interesting to me to see the set-ups that the No.1 and the No. 42 cars are running and see what the differences are there. And then you know, if you can bring something from where you're at; it's just that it changes so fast I don't know if it's going to matter what you're going to bring from where you are. But I was a Formula 1 fan. For years I've loved watching F1. And when I heard Juan was going to come race with us, I was one of the first guys that went over and introduced myself to him and tried to help, more than anything because I wanted to hear his stories of what the F1 life was like in relation to what our lifestyle is. I've been pretty good friends with him. I was pretty good friends with him until he wrecked me at Bristol and then our friendship definitely has suffered a little bit. But I've looked past that now. And (laughter) I know Chip thinks so. Certainly being your teammate is a different position than you've been in. And Juan has run really well.
"So, I certainly look forward to being his teammate and it will be a lot different only having one teammate. But I'm telling you, having six or seven cars to look at set-ups is awesome. When things are going well and you feel everything they're changing makes their car better. But when you have five or six different cars to look at and nothing's working, it can also hurt you. I look forward to being able to literally just work with one guy and one other team and know that there's going to be a lot of honesty there. So it'll be different."
CHIP - HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO BUCK THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IN THE GARAGE THAT MORE TEAMS ARE BETTER, IS IT THE NEW CAR, TESTING LIMITATIONS OR OTHER FACTORS? "I will be honest with you, I don't look at it as bucking the trend. Jamie touched on it when he said was he said. I guess when things are going good, it would be great to draw on all of that, but when they are bad, I guess you can be fairly mixed up easily, I don't know. I don't know, as an owner, you always look at other organizations and you say to yourself, gee, what. It is kind of management by paranoia. You look at everybody else and see how they do it and then say hey, should I be doing it that way? I've questioned myself about what. My CFO tells me there are some financial benefits to having multiple cars. In our case, it becomes a management nightmare. At the same time, I can argue that we are a five car team. The problem is, two are in Charlotte and three are in Indianapolis. But I can understand how it becomes...multiple cars could be a laborious thing. But, again, it works for some people obviously. I don't know how that would work for us."
CHIP -- TALK ABOUT THE HOW JUAN BEING MORE THAN JUST THE DRIVER EACH WEEK AND HOW INVOLVED HE IS IN THE TEAM AND CAR? "The Juan that you see know and I started to see this guy mid-summer and at Richmond, he was back to the Juan I knew in 2000, when I met him...or '99 or whatever. I guess I didn't realize how hard he was...we were all working hard at making the Chase. There was obviously a lot at stake. Our goal was just to make the Chase. That is no secret. Suddenly, when we got there, the goal changed obviously. I said last night to someone, the Juan that everybody sees now is the Juan we all know and love. I'm glad he is back to himself and we are back to the front."
JAMIE -- LOOKING BACK ON YOUR PAST FOUR YEARS, DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS? "No regrets at all. I certainly think it has been a great experience for me. The goal was to go there and win consistently and be able to make the Chase. We just didn't have the success that we needed. With the economy and the sponsors the way that they are right now and with cutting back to four cars from five, certainly, things have changed. No regrets at all.
"I am really excited about this opportunity. You just always think that it is going to be better if you do something different and it isn't always. Going back to Ganassi's shop on Tuesday and you see the guys that you knew years ago, a lot of them still work there. To have come up and shake your hand and tell you how glad they are you are back, there is a lot to be said for having not just the eight or 10 guys on your specific team behind you, but to have the whole organization behind. A lot of those guys sent me texts before this happened saying they hoped you are the one that comes over. There is a lot to be said for that and a lot encouragement. Damn, it just makes you feel good to have all those people on your side. I really look forward to being able to come back and drive for Chip again."
BONO -- IN THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON WITH YOU BEING SUCH GOOD FRIENDS WITH BRIAN PATTIE, IT WOULD HAVE SEEMED THAT YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN ON AN EVEN KEEP ALL SEASON. NOW, YOU SEEM TO HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN TO THE SAME PAGE, WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO GET THE CONSISTENCY BACK FOR THE NO. 1 CAR FOR 2010. "Well, I think it in the beginning of the year, we got a little bit of a late start with the merger. The friendship between Brian and myself and the two teams is probably, in my whole time in racing, has been the best. Chip gives us everything we need. Just the two teams working together. Chip has a great support system back at the shop. We went whitewater rafting together. We do a lot of team-building activities. This is such a people sport and to be so open and truthful, Jamie mentioned it, truthful with your notebook. Back and forth. We share the same office, Brian and myself. I think looking forward to next year, Jamie has a great personality. People asked me if I knew Jamie before this, but I do remember when I first came in the sport, he was the guy who would walk by and say hey. I am looking forward to getting with Jamie and doing a little testing and hanging out a little bit. See what makes him click and makes me click and the team. It is a great time right now at Ganassi Racing. I hate that it is over this season but can't wait to get started. We walked around the shop the other day and I pointed to the Daytona car. Brand new Daytona car. We are building three brand new cars for Daytona. We are building a lot of new cars and staying up with the times. I am ready to spearhead this thing and move forward."
CHIP -- FINAL THOUGHTS: "I just want to say thanks for today and keep in mind, the three of us are up here today, but deals like this don't happen without people like Felix Sabates and Teresa Earnhardt and Johnny Morris (Bass Pro Shops). Just because they aren't sitting up here doesn't mean they are not involved in it in a big way than just the three of us being up here. Thank you."
-credit: gm racing