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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Budweiser Shootout

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Budweiser Shootout

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Budweiser Shootout

Jamie McMurray
February 7, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the media center by tonight's second-place finisher, Jamie McMurray. Tell us about your run out there tonight.
JAMIE McMURRAY: It will be a long night. I'll think about what maybe I should have done different as I go to sleep tonight.
I moved up at the end. I'm not going to talk about the rest of the race, because it seems irrelevant when you get down to the last lap. I'm not going to tell you how my pit stops and all went. I moved up to block Kevin. When I did, I didn't go all the way up against the wall. I thought I was far enough up against the wall that he couldn't fit. My reason was I assumed I could kind of slingshot back to the inside and I didn't want to have to have another four feet to block him. His car just fit through there. I wouldn't have bet it would have.
It's a really good night for us. It's the first race that Donnie has crew chiefed for me again in the last three years. He did a really good job. Everybody did a good job. We won here in July a couple years ago. Last year I felt like this was one of my worst tracks. Car did not drive very well. Just never could really get a good feel for it. It was the first year with the Car of Tomorrow at this place. But they did a really good job. The setup we unloaded with, the few small adjustments we made in practice, really made our car good, drive well.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. You really started to turn things up at the end of last year. You mentioned you got Donnie back. Great way to start the year. How important is it for you to really continue what you had going?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, last year really when we ended the season, I was saying coming in here, I love the media center, because when you get to come to the media center, you did well. I got to come to the media center after qualifying, and I think every race, the last four. I think when you sit all winter and you have that, I was actually a little bit nervous before the race started tonight, just anticipating wanting to get back in the car after not being in it for the last couple months.
After practice last night, I knew how well my car was driving. I knew if we could stay out of trouble, we'd have a chance to win tonight.
It's great. I'm excited for my whole team because we ran so well last year at the end. You just want to make it all happen this year. You can't really force that. It's hard to explain when things are going well how everything just kind of flows. It's easier to run well right now than it's ever been for me just 'cause everything's working.

Q. With all the inordinate beating and banging that was going on out there, do you think some of those cars that survived that late to challenge, you, 24, 48, 29, they were all beat up, two years ago with the old car, could they have survived that kind of dents and dings aerodynamically to be challengers late in the race?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I think here you could have because the front end of the car they put this big steel plate. You have to hit hard enough that it knocks the engine out to dent the fenders and stuff now. We started that four or five years ago. Maybe here because the front of the cars are so tough.
Honestly, the leader is kind of a sitting duck with this car. It's cool because you can pass him. With the other car, if there would have been a 'green-white-checkered', I don't think you would have seen a pass because you couldn't get the shove and the pushes that you can with this car.
When you're the leader, you get pushed so far out in front, you actually have to drag the brake a little bit so you don't get a big enough gap or too big of a gap between you and the pack because you know they're going to come. You can't move up to block them, they're coming so fast.
I did a pretty good job of that. But it's hard when you come to the white flag to let off or to like drag the brake a little bit. It's tough to do. I let those guys get too big of a gap on me.

Q. Do you think this race would have been different if there had been winter testing?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I don't know. I know that when you come here for winter testing and they make the first set of runs, everybody goes out and makes their mock-up runs, the same guys come back here and qualify well that are fast that first time off the truck. There's not a tremendous amount that you can do to this car. The other car you changed crush panels in it, they did air boxes, moved the fenders. They did all kinds of stuff. When you would see testing, the cars would be gray, then they would have separate panels put on them. You can't really do that with this car.
So I don't think it would have been dramatically different. When you come here and you test and you do your race runs, the cars typically drive really well because it's so cool and there's not a lot of rubber on the track. When you come back for the race, it seems like they never drove as well.
I don't know. I don't think it would have been dramatically different. It seemed like a great race to me. I don't know what it looked like for you guys. It seemed like the racing was really good.

Q. About the racing being real good, we had a winter where all the headlines were about layoffs and struggles in the economy. How big was this to come out and put on a good show and get people excited about racing?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I think it's huge. When we did driver intros, I looked up in the stands, it didn't look like a huge crowd. But it is the Shootout. I know we typically don't have as many cars. When you look up there, you take that for granted I think sometimes in our sport in relation to maybe IRL and Grand-Am, some of the other series, they don't sell out the stands. Ever since I've been in the sport, they've been selling out Bristol and all these racetracks.
I think with the economy the way it is, with the amount of layoffs, it's almost depressing right now to turn the news on. I get up at 6 a.m., turn the news on. Every morning it seems like the headline is how many people were laid off from major corporations.
I think it will be a tough year for us and for the tracks to sell tickets. But I know there's been a little bit of drama or controversy about the track promotors wanting the drivers to help out. Maybe that wasn't worded right, when the promotor said it the first time. For me at least, my opinion is that I would help out what I could to sell tickets and to do something right now to make sure that you're going to have the sellouts for the next 10 years or 20 years, however long that is, until the economy gets turned around in the next year or so.

Q. I know some drivers were predicting a wild night beforehand. Did anything surprise you about tonight? Was it what you expected? Is it what you might see later in the week?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, when we race in the daytime, it's going to be a little bit different. I think you'll see a little bit more -- especially when we get to run 40 laps on a set of tires. When the race started, it wasn't necessarily the fastest cars in the front, there maybe were some faster cars in the back, what was a little bit edgy was the guys that started in the front, cars didn't drive very well, they would have to slow down a little bit getting in the corner and somebody would shoot the gap on the outside. It was sucking those guys around. Bobby Labonte, for three laps, he was trying to get out of the way, and he couldn't. I don't know how he didn't spin out all the way, but he didn't.
I believe when it gets hot, it's going to be worse there. Handling will be huge. The 500 starts in the daytime. Seems like it spreads out a little bit in the beginning. Once we put our last two or three sets of tires on, the sun has gone down, I think it will be really good racing like you saw tonight.

Q. Donnie said it felt like the old band was back again with you in the car. Did it feel like that to you, like you just were working with him last November?
JAMIE McMURRAY: You know, yeah. And it really -- for me it happened at Phoenix when we did the tire test, getting in the car for the very first time. You do a radio check. Donnie, can you hear me? The first time I heard him say, Yeah, 10-4. It's so weird to hear his voice again. Lauren is the same way. I was really comfortable with Lauren spotting for me all those years. To get to have both of them back at the same time, I mean, it's very comforting.
I don't know. It's really hard for me to explain to you the comfort or the confidence that I have in those two guys. I feel like when we ran at Ganassi, we ran really well. I didn't think we had near as good of equipment as what we have at Roush Fenway. I spent the whole winter -- I don't think it does any good to do media day and to do these interviews and blow smoke up everyone's ass about how great it's going to be. I think it's better to come out and do well.
I am so anxious to kind of get the season underway, get through those first four or five races, get to see you guys hopefully a lot.

Q. It looked to me like all the cars were out of control out there. I don't know if it's because it's the Shootout, with a loose setup. I think they were changing tires after seven laps. Tony even did the last two laps on a new set of tires. What was the deal on the cars looking so out of control? Were they really that out of control?
JAMIE McMURRAY: My car did not feel out of control. They bounce around a lot. That's good. I mean, I told someone that the other day. They said they should repave the racetrack. I said, God, no. That's what makes Daytona so good. The huge bump in turn one. That's what makes the good-handling cars shine, if you hit those bumps.
There were some that didn't drive well tonight. I think that's just fine. I think that's great. Sometimes you come to these plate races, Talladega is probably an example, you get in the back and you can't pass because everybody's car drives well. I think is fine that not everyone is driving perfect and you have to get your car to handle and it's a little more work for the driver.

Q. With all those Chevrolets back there behind you on that last lap, did you almost kind of feel like the cavalry was coming after you?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I felt pretty good because it was only a 'green-white-checkered' and I had Jeff on the outside and Jimmie behind me. I thought there's no way in hell that Jimmie was going to be able to get to Jeff. I knew he would have to push me.
You just never know. I said something to Lauren with a few to go. I'm like, We've got a car that can win. When we came to the 'green-white-checkered', it's just going to be who gets the line to push them the best at the right time. The cars are so stacked up on the restart.
I didn't really care about who necessarily, whether it was a Ford or a Chevy. I wanted somebody that maybe liked me, you know.
THE MODERATOR: Jamie, thank you.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Thank you.

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