Indianapolis: Kenseth, McMurray press conference, part II

Brickyard 400 press conference Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003 Part 2 of 2. Moderator: Matt, sit tight. Let's get a few words from Jamie here. Jamie, your first Brickyard 400 and finished third place, just talk about your ...

Brickyard 400 press conference
Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray
Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003

Part 2 of 2.

Moderator: Matt, sit tight. Let's get a few words from Jamie here. Jamie, your first Brickyard 400 and finished third place, just talk about your impressions from this first Brickyard 400 from your seat.

Jamie McMurray: We felt like after happy hour last night that we were going to have a good car today. But we struggled with -- this year we've had good cars but not at the right time in the race to maybe keep up with the adjustments. But today we didn't really have to adjust a lot, and I really felt like we had the best car until about the last 20 laps. The two tires just, I don't know, didn't really -- they made me a little bit tight, but more than anything, it just took grip away it felt like. Like Matt said, I felt like we were better than him, a tenth a lap until we put the two tires on. Then when he pitted and came out, he was about the same as us. So I felt like if the caution didn't come out, we were being in good shape but I was a little bit worried if it did.

Q: Can you just talk about how it seems like pit strategy has almost taken over the last month of racing. Can you just talk about the different calls and what you've seen, how you've seen it evolve?

Kenseth: Talking to me?

Q: Yes, sir.

Kenseth: Just wanted to make sure. I didn't want to answer his question. There's a few reasons for it, and to me, it's a little frustrating as a driver when you're running good and have a good-handling car. It's not frustrating for the guys who get to take chances and get out front and maybe win a race when they don't have the best car. The way it is, a lot of times the best car won't necessarily win, there's several reasons for it. NASCAR has these cars so incredibly close. The 43 cars are just so close to the same speed, and that makes it difficult to pass. It makes it, you know, better if you're out front. It's not like we got the aero rules all screwed up and you can't pass, that's not the reason. The reason is because competition is so tight. Another reason for that is Goodyear does such a great job on the tires that the times hardly drop off. Today it maybe dropped off a second at the most. If you had a tire that dropped off three seconds or two seconds, everybody would get four tires every single time and if somebody didn't, they would be a sitting duck. You would drive by them like they were tied to a tree. The rules are so close and the cars are running real close to the same speed and the tires are such a good tire that getting four isn't as big an advantage as it has been three years ago. Three years ago, if you didn't get four tires, you were going to get killed. Those are the reasons for it. If you're out front, it's just the place to be at the end.

Q: Jamie, can you talk about the restart where you got pinned up behind Blaney's car? Do you know what happened to the 77 and just the traffic and all that stuff -- I mean, the 400-mile race comes down to going into one turn basically on that restart, right?

McMurray: Yeah, I don't know what happened. The outside groove was really slick, and you wanted to get down to the bottom, but the 77 had run well pretty much all day, so I was kind of committed to staying in that line. It was all a pretty good group of cars, at least the outside line looked better than the inside. I don't know, when we got down there, he didn't go and then I think Robby picked me up off the ground, and I couldn't turn. I was stuck there, I couldn't go down; I couldn't go up. I was hoping he didn't spin me out. I think it was Robby. Pretty sure it was. Just judging off his past, I'm pretty sure it was Robby. (Laughter) Don't print that because he'll wreck me or something in a week.

Kenseth: Just glad it was your quote.

McMurray: Then the 29 and those guys got by. The restart was -- I was out of control. I couldn't go; I couldn't do anything. I was just kind of stuck behind him.

Moderator: We've had Matt for a while. Any more questions for Matt before we cut him loose? Any more questions for Matt? Matt, congratulations. Good run. We'll continue with Jamie. More questions?

Q: Another question. At New Hampshire on Sunday morning of the race, Len Wood told me and another reporter that the fastest car they saw here at the test was the 42 car. And I'll admit, we didn't believe him.

McMurray: That's my friend.

Q: Was it that test, did you guys find something that you knew coming here that you thought it was going to be pretty good? Can you talk about that test?

McMurray: We had one car, the car I ran so well at California, Chicago, always ran well with it. We brought it here to test with this car. It's a brand-new car. This car was a little bit better than the car we had always run well with. I don't know, I mean this car -- it's a really good race car is what I am trying to get at. Our first day of testing we didn't run very well. In the last three hours of the second day, I won't tell you what we did, but we found something that I mean not just at this racetrack, it worked at Pocono last week, too, and just hit on something. At the test we were not really good on a get-go, but we didn't fall off at all. And so I felt, yeah, I felt really good coming back here. It's going to be hard to believe but we haven't changed -- I mean we changed two front shocks from the time that we've unloaded. Even throughout the whole race, I don't think we -- we didn't change anything through the whole race. So yeah, I would say that test is a lot of good. This is an intimidating racetrack; it's so much different than anything else we run on. Testing here for a rookie is crucial.

Q: Jamie, in light of what you did last year in just your second start, there you were today in great contention, did you allow your mind to think about -- what were your thoughts possibly winning this race?

McMurray: Honestly, once I got to the lead, I knew we had a really good car the whole race. I felt like we had the best car for most of the race just judging off Donnie reading my lap times. I knew if I could get out front, you're always faster when you can get out front. So I thought if I can get there, we're going to be in really good shape. I got to give kudos to my pit crew, too, because I had the best pit crew, I felt, today. We beat the 17 car out twice, and they have one the best pit crews in Winston Cup. So my guys helped me a lot. Really, once I got out to the lead, I struggled staying focused just trying to take in where we're at and what was happening and the fact that I was getting further away from him. It was really hard to take all that in and stay focused. At one point I kind of got grumpy at Donnie because he talked to me. I was like, "Don't talk to me." And then next moment, "Talk to me now." I was going crazy, guys. I was really struggling to stay focused and do what I need to do. This is a huge race, and I mean, I can't imagine being able to win it my first time here.

Q: You said this is an intimidating track, you mean physically intimidating or hard to figure out or just what do you mean?

McMurray: Well, it's Indianapolis.

Q: You didn't look very intimidated today.

McMurray: There's so much history behind this racetrack and especially for our race team with Chip having such a big background in open wheel. He obviously wants to win here. There are just a lot of factors that lead into this. It's not like anywhere else we race. Somewhat like Pocono, I think that's an intimidating racetrack because it's not like anywhere that we go to race at. It's a different shape. Everybody -- a lot of guys test here and they really want to do well at this race. So to me to run well at a race like this, I mean, it just shows you've got a really good team and everything went your way because a lot of guys try to run well here. When we got to Watkins Glen next week, some guys will go test there, but people just don't focus on those races as much as what they're going to focus on Daytona and the Brickyard.

Q: Can you talk about how your relationship has evolved with Donnie Wingo?

McMurray: Well, I mean I really feel like he's probably the most underrated crew chief in Winston Cup. The guy always seems to make the right call. And he's really good, I mean a crew chief is a leader, and my whole race team really respects him in that Donnie is not the kind of guy that just stands on top of the trailer and yells down do this. He'll just come down and do it. Not because he doesn't trust them, because he likes working on race cars. My whole team respects him for that and I do. It's weird, because with Donnie, there's such an age difference -- my dad is back there, I have to be careful how I word this -- but it's almost like a father figure to me. I don't joke around about girls with Donnie, and I don't joke around about girls with my dad, you just don't. I look at Donnie as more like a father. He's just really excited. We have meetings every week at Ganassi and that's not an issue. I feel really blessed to have him.

Moderator: Jamie, congratulations in your inaugural run here. Congratulations.


Part I

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jamie McMurray