MCMURRAY HOPES TO REBOUND AT THE BRICKYARD
An interview with: JAMIE McMURRAY
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today’s NASCAR teleconference in advance of this weekend’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We are joined today by Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat Chevrolet. Jamie is defending winner of the Brickyard 400 and has four top 10 finishes in eight races at the historic track. Jamie, talk a little bit about winning last year’s race and the possibility of another win that would put you in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup wild card.
JAMIE McMURRAY: The win last year was really big. It was cool to win at a track that was other than a plate track. So, yeah, I mean, winning there last year was really cool. I look forward to going back. It’s not only a fun racetrack, but a fun market. My wife and I enjoy downtown Indy. I look forward to getting there. Had an off weekend so I think everybody is recharged and ready to go.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll now go to the media for questions for Jamie McMurray.
Q. Jamie, talk about how tough this year has been. You talked a little bit about it in Charlotte, trying to find some answers. Brickyard kind of maybe the place to find them? Talk about how tough things have been.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, it’s been really frustrating to have such a good season last year and struggle so much this year. You know, our performance has been better I feel like the last 10 races. But it’s the same thing: we’re on our third engine failure of the year, we broke one transmission. It feels like if we do have a race that things start going our way, then you have a flat tire. We’ve had six or eight flat tires this year. Ran out of gas at Loudon. It just seems like if it could go wrong, it has. We’ve kind of been the guy that something breaks on the car and the engine shop or wherever the failure is, they say they’ve never seen that before. It’s just really odd. So I really hope that we get to have the off weekend, not necessarily that we get to have good luck, but just no more bad luck. It just seems like if it could go wrong it has so far.
Q. Jamie, can you talk to Joplin? Have you heard back from people, been back there again?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I have not been back through Joplin. My intentions were actually to try to get back probably for the fall race at Kansas City. But we have been in touch with some people there. We’re kind of in the middle of working out exactly where the money needs to go and what we need to do to raise more money. I’m starting to have more people contact me on where they feel like the most help is needed. You know, gosh, I’d like to tell you there’s a lot happening, but there isn’t right now. More than anything, I’m just waiting to hear exactly where they need the most help at. I think they’re still evaluating not necessarily the damage but the cleanup and then just structuring what needs to be rebuilt and what the priority is. More than anything, I’m just kind of waiting to hear from the right people. When we get that, then it will be a go.
Q. Jamie, my question is a little bit along those lines. You’ve detailed how all these different things have gone wrong for you. With the wild card, there is still an outside chance you make the Chase. Can you speak about that’s an option if you’re 29th in points a year ago at this point you’re not thinking about that, but this year you are.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, I’m not thinking that anyway. There’s three or four guys that have won races that are all, I don’t know, from 14th to 15th to 22nd in points, somewhere in there. Even winning one race, I don’t think you’d get the wild card because of the points you’d have to make up. Maybe if you win a couple, you would have a shot at that. But honestly, I mean, our goal right now for the rest of the year is just to get our team back where it was at this time last year and hopefully to be more consistent in the races. A lot of it’s not our doing. You can’t help flat tires, three blown up engines. That’s not anything that our team can do different. It’s just I guess luck of the draw or bad luck of the draw. More than anything right now it’s just about getting a good baseline. Honestly, I mean, it’s just about working on next year already.
Q. Jamie, about moving up to Cup, the economics and the veteran longevity is playing a role for young guys seeking a Sprint Cup seat. Has that reality changed since you moved up as a young guy?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I think it was much easier to move up when I made the move from the Busch Series to the Cup Series. Now you have a lot younger guys in Cup. When I came along, there were a lot of guys retiring and the economy was a lot better. You don’t have teams with the driver development programs. I think it’s probably harder now to get into it than ever just because there’s not as many teams, well funded teams, and there’s not as many guys retiring. So it’s really about trying to take a guy’s place. I just don’t know that the owners are as willing to take a chance on a young guy as what they used to be.
Q. What would you recommend to a young guy eager and wanting so much to get there, maybe having the talent to do it?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, it wouldn’t be any different than it was when I came along. You certainly just don’t ever give up. I don’t know. I think it’s harder now. I don’t know what you would particularly say to someone.
Q. Jamie, I’m curious how much you feel you were off from last year. Can you talk about what’s the difference between winning three races in a year and kind of the season that you’re having this year.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, it’s been frustrating. But, again, I mean, a lot of those things are out of your control. I think if you were just running poorly and maybe crashing, it would be one thing. But blown engines and flat tires are out of your control. Gosh, you just have to keep your head up and not focus I guess on all the negative stuff. It’s really frustrating, the situation that we’re in. But it’s not really anyone’s doing. It’s just the cards that we’ve been dealt. You know, for me the most important thing is just keep your head up. I think our cars are still going to be plenty fast enough. You just get a little bit of good luck on our side, I still think we can contend to win a couple races this year.
Q. Do you feel different this year than some of the years when you didn’t have the seasons you expected at Roush?
JAMIE McMURRAY: No, I think it’s a little bit different this year because we had so much success last season, that you know your team, your crew chief, the car, the engine, you personally, that you know you’re all capable of doing it. And the situations that have happened, it’s plenty different than it has been in the past.
Q. Jamie, you’ve run well at Indy. Montoya has run well at Indy. What will this weekend tell you as you try and start to piece things together for next year?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Indy is unique, the setup that you run there. It’s just a track that’s not shaped like anywhere else. So I think we’ll both run well this weekend. To me, Indy is one of those tracks that if you like the track, it tends that the same guys always run well there. I don’t know that you’ll learn a lot this weekend about the remainder of the season. But I think that we should run well this weekend just because both Montoya and I really like that place.
Q. What kind of boost forward did last year give you when you won there?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, Indy and Daytona to me are very similar races. Certainly the 500 is a bigger race. I felt like I’d been stereotyped as a plate racer. To win Indy last year and also Charlotte, that was also very big for me.
Q. Jamie, this year with so many drivers doing much better, a different winner each week, did it make you increase your concentration when you’re out there on the track and make it tougher on you to figure out which team to watch that could come out of nowhere actually to win?
JAMIE McMURRAY: No, not really. I mean, with the Daytona 500, I think that was a little bit unique. The way speedway racing is now, anybody can win at a plate track now if you have the right guy behind you. With David Ragan and Regan, both those guys run well every week. David Ragan is with a really good organization. The Roush cars have been good everywhere. And Regan, they’re getting all of their cars from RCR. I don’t know that it’s any different than it would be if Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson were winning all the races.
Q. Jamie, as someone who has been through a couple of team changes in your career, kind of gone through that stress, can you feel a little bit for what Carl is going through right now? And how much of a distraction can it be as you’re trying to just race from week to week with all that kind of hanging over your head? How bad can that become?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I think Carl’s situation is totally unique because ultimately Carl is in control of where he’s going to go. He could relieve that stress with just telling one team or the other where he wants to be. I think it’s different when there’s multiple drivers and only one team available. That’s a different kind of stress than certainly what Carl is going through. No one really knows what’s going on there except for Carl. I guess he still doesn’t know if he wants to stay at Roush or if he wants to go somewhere else. I don’t think that’s a distraction for him. If anything, I mean, he is going to ultimately be the decision maker of what he wants to do and where he wants to go. I don’t think that’s a big distraction for him.
Q. Jamie, both the Indianapolis and the Daytona tracks are historically great tracks. How do you compare the aura of the Indianapolis track to the Daytona track?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, for sure if you’re an open wheel guy I think that Indy is the most important race for you. I think if you’re a NASCAR guy, there’s just nothing like the Daytona 500. It’s because you spend two weeks there really leading up to it. You run the Shootout, the 150 qualifiers. There’s so much buildup around that race. That’s huge. I mean, even for NASCAR guys Indy has had so much history. The teams just put so much importance on that race with engines, new cars, everything that goes into Indy. Other than Daytona, it’s where everybody wants to win at. Both of them are really cool, but it’s different, one of them being a plate track and one of them being more of an intermediate type track. Both of them are still really cool to win at.
Q. Even though you won at Indianapolis last year and every other track that you ran at and won last year, how much of a learning experience is it each year you go back to a track? Even though you knew what the setup was last year, how much do you have to learn again as the track has changed in 12 months?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Not that much. The thing about Indy is that we only race there once a year. When you do places like Pocono, Loudon, you get to go there twice, you feel like you know the tracks quite a bit better. Indy, only getting to go there once a year, really it’s not like a track that’s been on the schedule since the ’60s. I mean, I don’t know. It’s interesting every time you go there you pull out because it seems like you do learn something new. As far as the setup stuff goes, I don’t know if we’ll be able to run with the setup we ran with last year. It seems the setup changes from year to year. Charlotte we won last year, unloaded with the same setup, the car ran horrible. But the learning curve, it does seem like there’s something you pick up each time.
THE MODERATOR: We do appreciate everyone’s participation today. Jamie, thank you so much for joining us.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Have a good day. Thanks, guys.