Indianapolis: Winning team press conference, part 1

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Page July 25, 2010 An interview with: JAMIE McMURRAY - Winner KEVIN MANION - Crew chief FELIX SABATES - Co-owner CHIP GANASSI - Co-owner THE MODERATOR: We'll get rolling here. We're now joined by today's winner ...

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Page July 25, 2010

An interview with:
KEVIN MANION - Crew chief

THE MODERATOR: We'll get rolling here. We're now joined by today's winner of the Brickyard 400, Jamie McMurray. Currently Jamie is 16th in points, 151 out of 12th. Jamie is now the third driver to win both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year. Other drivers who have done it are Dale Jarrett in '96 and Jimmie Johnson in '06.

Jamie, tell us about your day.

JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, first off, the 42 car had a great tire test here. It gave us a really good starting point. Qualifying went well. I think everybody saw last year that track position is key to running well here. So after qualifying, we felt like if we could keep our track position, we would be okay.

Honestly, our times were pretty good in practice, but I didn't feel like our car handled that well. Bono just kept preaching to me that, There's not going to be a tremendous amount of passing. We have enough speed to maintain, keep our track position all day.

We had a third- or fourth-place car, felt like. Didn't feel like we had a dominant car. But we had a really smart race. We didn't make any mistakes.

I think Bono did a really good job with taking two tires. Don't know if you know, but it was a really big risk for us because I thought I had a flat left front. I'm glad that we were pitted towards the end of pit road because it gave us time to work it out. Bono was, If you think you have a flat, we need to do four. But I was like, I don't know. I do know that four tires probably will not give us the track position we need when it comes down to the end.

He made a good decision to stick with two tires. When I got out in front, I honestly didn't think anybody would catch me. The 29 hadn't been as good as us all day. I thought I'd be able to drive away from him. I got really tight. Kevin got up underneath me. I kind of let him go because I was going to try to cross over going into one. As soon as I let off the gas, the caution came out. I was pretty frustrated. Give it all I have on this last restart to give up what I loss. We finished second two or three times, come so close to winning, you don't want to give that up.

When Kevin gave me the outside, I thought that was my only chance. On the restart we both spun the tires really, really bad. But when I got down to turn one, my car had a lot more grip than it did the run before. I don't know if the air pressure built up. I worked my tires in really, really hard under the yellow to get the pressure built up. Man, I just had way more grip that last run than I did the run before that.

THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by today's winning crew chief, Kevin 'Bono' Manion. Talk about your race from top the box.

KEVIN MANION: Well, it was a long day and it was a long 11 laps there at the end. You know, track position, a couple weeks ago at Chicago, we sat on the pole, just maintain track position, had an opportunity to win. After Happy Hour yesterday, we made a 12-lap run, which takes about 15 minutes here, 20 minutes, time in and out of the garage. We were looking at all the laps after the race, after practice rather, in the lounge. Jamie says, Can we win? I said, Absolutely. We had enough speed to where if you put us in the right position, there was no one going to pass you because passing and track position is at a premium. Passing is so difficult. Good cars can pass, as we saw last year with the 20 and the 48.

There at the end, it was on schedule to go green the whole way and you just knew there was going to be a caution. It opened that door, opened that opportunity to take two or four. That was probably the right call with two today. I actually said in a team meeting, Four tires will win this race, even though we thought we were going to take two in our strategy to get out front. All in all, great day. Real happy to be here.

THE MODERATOR: And also joined by team owner, Felix Sabates. Another big day in Indy. Your thoughts on the day.

FELIX SABATES: Somebody say 11 laps? I thought it was a hundred laps. It felt like it anyway (laughter).

No, Bono made a great call. I was listening to Jamie. He thought he had a flat tire. I think it was one of those things that Jamie was lucky we were at the end of pit road, able to figure out we didn't have a flat tire, making the two-tire call. Biffle was the first car on four tires. He got behind the 29 car and couldn't pass him. In this place here, if you don't get up front, you're screwed. That was a great call you made, so congratulations.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions. One interesting note, Jamie. You are now the top-trending topic on Twitter, so congratulations for that.

Q: Jamie, Kevin Harvick was in here a while ago and said something about what you have accomplished two-thirds of with Chip, the Daytona 500, this race and the Indy 500 all in one year. He said pretty simply, This will probably never happen again. What is your response to that?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, it most likely won't. I think it's very hard to have -- I mean, Chip is just having such a year between the NASCAR side and the IndyCar side. I'll be honest. I thing I think of the most is they almost won the 24 Hours of Daytona. I think they finished second.

It's so hard to get both organizations going at the same time. This race, the Daytona 500, and the Indy 500 are races of strategy. You see guys dominate those races and not win. So it's just remarkable what he's been able to put together and the people he's been able to hire.

I feel very honored to get to be a part of that accomplishment.

Q: You were not the guy that all the fanfare was surrounding coming into this weekend. Certainly Chip. Juan was the guy. You're so humble, it never seemed to bother you. You went out and did the job. Can you talk about the emotions. At Daytona, you said, This is like a dream come true. Now you're winning the second biggest race of the year. What was going through your mind at the end of all of that?

JAMIE McMURRAY: To start with, I saw Christy walk in. I reminded me something. I didn't sleep the night before qualifying, neither did Bono, because we thought it was going to be a big deal to get on the pole at the Brickyard 400. I talked to him. I didn't sleep last night, ran 200 qualifying laps trying to get a rhythm down. He said, I didn't sleep either, looking at notes till at 11:30 at night. We qualified fourth. I was really torn up over that. It wasn't because Juan had the pole. I thought we had a legitimate shot at it.

Went back to the motorhome, and talking to Christy, I'm really torn up I am not going to be on the pole here. Christy doesn't ever give her opinion on anything to do with racing. And she's like, Heck with the pole, win the race. That's the first thing I thought of after I won. She had a good point. I'm pretty happy right now.

It's just remarkable to get to be here. I mean, I'm a big believer in fate. I really believe that this was Juan's weekend. He had a really good tire test here. He ran so well last year, had a chance to win the race. I just think that things normally work themselves out.

I'm looking with 15 or 20 laps to go and Juan is leading. Not that I was content, but, If this is the way it's supposed to be, then that's just the way it is. Then I was like, I'm going to be really happy for Chip and Juan and everybody at our team because this is really big. It's just a major accomplishment what we've all been able to put together.

That team, the 42 team, has had some really good cars. They just have had some bad luck and got put in bad position. So, I don't know, it was unfortunate for them.

THE MODERATOR: Let me also welcome team owner, Chip Ganassi. He becomes the first owner to win the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Indy 500 in the same year. Congratulations. Your thoughts on how things unfolded today.

CHIP GANASSI: Let's see. First of all, thanks to everybody. When you come down to the end there, I think there was about 10 laps to go on that last yellow. I'll tell you, what Jamie was talking about, this is such a team sport. Let me tell you how that other team helped us win today. There was 10 laps to go. For all yesterday and today, all the crew chiefs talk about is, What do you do with 10 to go? Four tires? They can point to the races where four tires have won, you can point to the races where two tires have won. We were in the enviable position of running 1-2. A lot of times when you're running like that, you can do a split strategy so you have both sort of angles covered.

I was behind the pit stand. Johnny Morris brought up to me, Maybe we ought to think about two. The 42 was going for four. I looked at Bono. I said, Do you think we should do the split strategy here? He said, Yeah, let's go for two. I said, Okay.

That was the call. The only reason we could do that is because we knew the 42 was going for four. As a team, we had sort of both strategies covered there, I guess. That's the great thing about having a teammate.

Q: Chip and Felix, you had to reorganize the team a couple years back, brought Jamie back. Talk about the struggles from where you were a couple years ago to where you are today.

CHIP GANASSI: I mean, you know, everybody looks at the year with Franchitti there when we didn't find sponsorship for him. We were looking for sponsorship at the beginning of the financial crisis. I'm sure there's not a person out there that wasn't affected by the financial crisis. And we were, too. That just happened to be the year we were looking for a sponsor for Dario. We didn't get it done.

So we had to pull our wings in a bit and make some changes, take it a little bit on the chin, which we did. But we always knew we'd be racing. I think a lot of people in the media had us written off that we were bye-bye. Everybody was ready to kiss us off. We knew that wasn't the case. But, yeah...

Q: Jamie, this time last year you had no idea where you were going to be driving this year. Chip, someone had written your team was in disarray.

CHIP GANASSI: Where is Newton? He wrote that (laughter).

Q: You had returned from about a six-week absence. All of you up there were facing difficult questions about what the future held. That being said, here you are today. Is it almost surreal what a difference a year makes? You have one winning team here and one heartbroken team in the garage. What do you say to Juan and Brian?

CHIP GANASSI: Which one do you want first?

Q: Any order you want.

CHIP GANASSI: What do I say to Juan and Brian? They should have taken two.

JAMIE McMURRAY: That will be the front page.

CHIP GANASSI: I don't know, you know.

Q: Is that off the record?


CHIP GANASSI: Look, I told you. It takes a team to win in this sport. Bono will tell you that he and Brian Pattie are like brothers. Jamie will tell you he and Juan, I wouldn't call them brothers, but they're open book, and they help each other all weekend.

This is a win for the team. Certainly we sit here, I don't want to take anything away from Jamie and Bono, but the team wins and the team loses. Today was certainly a mixed emotions day in that respect. Without the 42 team, the 1 car wouldn't have won, I don't think, and vice versa. That's what happens.

Is it surreal? Yes. From where we were a while back, people had Jamie written off, people had us written off. But I think what I said once before, a semester at sea for Jamie. He couldn't have come back a better person. We had grown as a team and he had grown as a driver. We picked up where we left off, I think. And I'm really happy about that.

What else were you asking?

Q: Jamie, as well.

JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I think it's very similar to what Chip said. For me, and I just said this on TV, I think it's a lesson for all the media, that instead of writing the story that this guy should be fired, the story should be this guy needs to find a new situation. I'm going to use Elliott Sadler. I go back and I watch all these races while I run or work out. I'll watch Pocono this week. Since we had two weeks off, I watched last year's race and I YouTubed a race, found the race from 2005. Elliott qualified on the pole, led like the first 40 laps.

I think it's just a situation where you got to get the guys in the right position with the right crew chief and the right team and the right owner. I'll tell you something that Chip said to me right before I got in the car. He said, Let's go out and do this thing. I said, I'll give you everything I got. He said, I know, that's why I hired you. I believe in you. You go out and do your best, that will be enough.

I think every driver is different, but for me that's what drives me, is having somebody behind you. I think it's been really good for both Chip and I to experience all of this together because we were together when things weren't great and we kind of built this together along with the 1 team to where it is. I think it's made me, I won't speak for Chip, but it's made me really appreciate Bass Pro Shops, McDonald's, everyone that is a part of our race team. When you're a part of an organization that just has sponsors knocking the doors down, I don't think that the drivers appreciate that as much as they should. For me to go through what I went through, it makes me really, really appreciate what we have with Bass Pro Shops.

Johnny Morris was here today in Victory Lane. We go and sign autographs at Bass Pro Shops. Johnny will be the one that will call. Do you mind going and signing autographs? When you have relationships like that with your sponsors, it makes you want to go out and help them. Really fortunate to be where we are.

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Chip Ganassi , Elliott Sadler , Felix Sabates