NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MAY 17, 2014
BOWTIE BRAND SHINES ONCE AGAIN UNDER THE LIGHTS AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Chevrolet Driver Jamie McMurray Scores First Win In Annual Sprint All-Star Race
CONCORD, NC (May 17, 2014) – Jamie McMurray muscled his No. 1 Bass Pro Chevrolet SS to the front when it counted the most, and captured his first career NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, which was also the first for team owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sebates. The prize was a cool $1 million.
McMurray restarted in second position on the final 10-lap segment but made his way past the leader soon after the restart, and never looked back.
Since the inception of the All-Star race in 1985, the Bowtie emblem has shone brightest under the lights with Chevrolet-powered teams and drivers now having made 17 trips to Victory Lane in the exhibition race that highlighted points-race winners from the start of 2013.
Kevin Harvick finished in second place in his No. 4 Hunt Brother’s Pizza Chevrolet SS. Harvick, the All-Star champion in 2007, was unable to track McMurray down after moving into second with just five laps remaining. Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. was also looking for his second All-Star win, but came home fourth In the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS.
Matt Kenseth (Toyota) was third and Carl Edwards was fifth to round out the top-five.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Series schedule will also be at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Coca-Cola 600, which is the longest race of the season, takes place on Sunday, May 25th at 6:00 p.m. ET. It can be seen live on FOX and heard on PRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
JAMIE MCMURRAY, KEITH RODDEN, CHIP GANASSI, FELIX SABATES, NO. 1 BASS PRO CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER:
KERRY THARP: We’re going to go ahead and hear from the car owners from tonight’s 30th‑annual NASCAR Sprint All‑Star Race, won by Jamie McMurray, who drove the No. 1 Bass Pro Chevrolet to victory in the Sprint All‑Star Race, and that’s Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Congratulations to both of you guys. It’s your first Sprint All‑Star win, Chip, and that’s going to be a big deal for you. Congratulations.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you.
KERRY THARP: Felix, congratulations to you as well. Chip, what’s it mean to win the Sprint All‑Star Race and certainly the way your race team has been performing this year, been very, very impressive, and we know how good Jamie McMurray is here at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Talk about what this means to your race team.
CHIP GANASSI: Well, thanks. I think first of all the fact that it’s the home race for everybody here in the backyard, this and obviously Memorial Day and in the fall, the races mean a lot more when they’re in your backyard, I guess everybody gets to see them, your peer group, your friends, your wives, your girlfriends, and your families. I think it adds a little something special to it.
I think that. I think Jamie likes this place. Number two, I think he’s got a little nose for the front. When he gets a little sniff of the front there, he kind of gets calm all of a sudden and settles down, seems to like it at the front when he’s in the ‑‑ we like to ‑‑ I think Keith made some great calls tonight. I think the call was really made I want to say in segment 2. The call was made in segment 2 that I think enabled him to win the race, to be there at the end and in the mix at the front, obviously.
I think you saw some great racing with Carl Edwards and he, with Kevin and Jamie. Just really, really proud of the team, really proud of the people that have hung in there with us. Bass Pro Shops obviously tonight, obviously Cessna and McDonald’s, Target, people that have been with us for lots of years, and really proud to bring them a victory.
It means something here. There’s something a little special about the All‑Star Race, too, I think, that nobody is out there points racing. It’s hammer down there with 10 to go. I think we saw a special kind of racing tonight, and we’re all very lucky to see that.
KERRY THARP: Felix, certainly you know how special it is racing here at Charlotte and what this could mean for the team as we even look ahead to next weekend, but what’s the significance of the win here tonight for you guys?
FELIX SABATES: Well, you know, it puts us in an elite group, a very elite group that won this race in the past. You look at the past winners, it’s like the who’s who of racing.
We’ve come close to winning this before, but close doesn’t count when it comes to All‑Star Race. As far as I’m concerned, if you finish second, you’re the first loser in the All‑Star Race. You’ve got to win the race. We brought a new mascot to us today, Coach Rivera, his wife Stephanie, they sat in the pit box with us, and by God, we won the race.
KERRY THARP: Good to have you here, Coach.
FELIX SABATES: So the NFL, we changed the schedule so they can play on Saturday so he can come to races with us on Sundays. I don’t know if we can get it done or not, but thanks to Ron and Stephanie for being here.
Q. Both Chip or Felix or whoever wants to answer, you’ve been through a lot with Jamie and he’s now delivered you a Daytona 500, a Brickyard and an All‑Star Race. How much does he mean to you personally and how long are you going to keep him around so you can go chase a championship?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, that’s true. He said to me in victory lane tonight, he said, we’ve won a lot of great races together, haven’t we. I said, yes, we have. You know, it was kind of special for him to think of that, as well, because he’s that kind of guy. He understands the ‑‑ he understands what it takes to be in this sport and be a driver.
I think your media brethren miss a lot of times what it really takes to be in this sport week in and week out, with a family, with the demands that are put on these athletes in any top‑level sport. It can be trying at times, and in the ups and downs and the mental side of the sport can be very difficult, and I think Jamie has shown great resilience over the years to hang in there and perform at a high level when the opportunity presents itself, and he did that here tonight.
I’m sure that that obviously ingratiates Jamie in the mind of a lot of people, and his future is bright, I can assure you.
Q. Seems like you guys have had some pretty good runs this year, and you look at Martinsville and you get put in the outside wall, you look at Kansas, what happ
ened there. What does this win do for your outlook going forward from here, and how much confidence does this give a guy like Jamie to go out there and know that he can still get out there and win races?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I think obviously with the addition of Kyle Larson to the team this year, things have stepped up a bit. The performance, we had a few changes with personnel in the off‑season, and these are things that ‑‑ I guess it’s nice to have a validation from time to time of your MO. It’s nice to ring the cash register, if you will, from time to time in this business to let you know that you can still do it, and the way that you operate the business, the way you motivate your team, the components you put together, the people, all those pieces that have to come together. Sports teams are a very delicate balance of personalities and equipment, and it’s nice, like I said, to validate that from time to time.
Q. Chip, were you always coming today?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, meaning I was in Indianapolis earlier today?
Q. Yeah, with the second part of my question being, and not to cut you off, but we only were able to follow peripherally what happened in Indy today. Does this victory sort of turn your day around?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, yes, we obviously didn’t have a great day in Indianapolis, and you’re damned right it turned my day around. It could turn tomorrow around, too. This might turn around a few more days, as a matter of fact. Yes, this has the ability to do that. Thank you.
Q. Would it have deterred you from coming here today?
CHIP GANASSI: No, we have a two‑car team and one of our cars was in this race, so I was going to be here, so thank you. Yes.
KERRY THARP: Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, is our race winner, wins his first Sprint All‑Star Race, led a race‑high 31 laps, Jamie, and this is a big win for you here. It’s got to be a big win for you here tonight. I know how much you like racing here at Charlotte and have had success here before at the Speedway, but just talk about what this means not only right now at this moment in time in your career but also in your career overall, how this is a big deal winning this race.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, this is just really awesome moment. It’s so much different than winning the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard because there are no points, and I think the mentality going into that last segment is just all or nothing, and that was my thought process. I am like, I don’t really care if we wreck, I don’t care what happens, I’m racing for a million dollars, I get to start on the front row and I’m going to make the very most out of the restart and everything that goes with this.
It was awesome. It’s three or four of the hardest laps I’ve ever driven in my racing career, and it’s one of those memories that I hope I never forget. I have such a clear vision of those three or four laps with the 99 car being on the inside of me, and it’s what we wake up every single day and live for is to get to be put in that exact position. It’s really awesome.
KERRY THARP: And Keith, just talk about this win from your perspective as a young crew chief, just what this means to you.
KEITH RODDEN: It means a lot to finally get a win. I feel like this year we’ve been pretty good, we just need to get better, and I feel like we’ve been getting better on the track every week. Last week we had a little unfortunate thing happen, so didn’t get to show how good that car was, but tonight we kind of started in the back a little bit, or started in the middle, and had to play a little bit of a track‑position game. I really knew that we had something special when we pitted and some of the ‑‑ I think like seven people stayed out or so and we were running really good lap times compared to what we had run before, and after that we stayed out and when no one stayed out in front of us, I knew we had something. Jamie did a great job. The 4 and the 5 were really fast and they were on four tires for most of the night and when only the 5 passed us that one time and Jamie was on really olds lefts and sticker rights and held the 4 off forever. Right then I knew that that final segment it was us and somebody else were going to run for this million dollars. Obviously got to line up in second spot coming down pit road. The guys had a great pit stop, barely got beat out, restarted on the outside. Like you said, he just drove amazing. All 10 laps were amazing, but that race with Carl was really special.
I don’t know, just special to win the All‑Star Race. It’s nice to win it as a crew chief, and looking forward to just carrying this momentum to winning some points races.
Q. I caught up with Carl in the garage after the race, and he lamented some of the decisions he made and said he would have driven the last few laps differently, but he said you drove perfectly and made perfect decisions at every turn. Do you feel like that was the best four or five laps you could have possibly driven when you were racing with him?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Absolutely. When I look back at like winning the Daytona 500, it’s kind of circumstantial to get drafting totally different. The Brickyard was for me really special because I passed Kevin Harvick on the outside of Turn 1 at Indy, which does not happen. It’s really hard to do. That was a really special restart for me.
But this is different because there’s no points, and honestly I wanted Carl to take the outside of the restart because I thought the inside was the better place and I had restarted on the inside both times before and been able to beat the guy to Turn 1, and when he took the inside, I was like, screw it, I don’t care. If we drive off into the corner and we all wreck, I don’t care right now because literally you can see the million bucks.
When you get to be in the All‑Star Race, it’s one thing to start ‑‑ like I started the first segment 11th, but there’s so much that’s going to happen between now and that last 10‑lap segment that it’s not reality. I think I restarted sixth last year, and I believed in my head I think I can win this if I get in the right position. But starting second, I’m like, one of us is going to win this. I’m like, the 4 is going to have a chance, but it’s so hard to pass here in 10 laps, especially when you have a good car in front of you, that I’m like if the 99 ever gets in front of me I don’t think I can pass him. I was telling Keith on the way over here a couple of those laps when he was inside of me we drove off into Turn 1 and I felt like I was 300 feet deeper than I’ve ever drive
n into that corner in qualifying trim and I could hear his exhaust and he hadn’t let off yet. And I’m like, I don’t care. I’m just staying wide open until he lets off and I’m going to carry a little more speed, and it was so much fun to run up the racetrack with him knowing that like on the end of that it’s a million dollars. I can’t explain to you guys how unbelievable that is to hold a check up for that much money. It’s crazy. I can’t even make sense of what’s going on right now. It’s awesome. Really it’s like just ‑‑ it’s ultimately what a race car driver wakes up every single day to be put in that position. That’s unbelievable.
Q. You guys have had some pretty strong runs this year and just some tough luck. You look at Martinsville and Kansas, for instance. What does winning this race do for you guys going forward knowing how much wins mean this year?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I’m going to let Keith answer this, as well, but my take on tonight, what makes tonight so special is it’s all about a team effort. I feel like I did a really good job as a driver. Keith did a great job of when we had the caution in the second segment, we pitted, and I could listen in his voice, I thought, he’s going to make me stay out the next segment on old tires and I don’t want to do that, but I could tell that’s what he wanted to do. Because it’s all about just trying to score the most points you can in those first four segments for a good starting spot in the last 10 laps, and also about our pit crew. To be able to come in in second place, first or second place on the last segment of the All‑Star Race, there is no more pressure that you can put on a pit crew, I think, than that. For those guys to come through with an amazing stop, and if the 99 hadn’t had the first pit stall we would have come out first, that’s so cool for a complete team effort, and I think it shows the strength of not only Keith and I but also our pit crew, and that’s a really good feeling to know that your entire race team is capable of winning.
Q. You said in victory lane about Keith that I think he was a hidden gem or something like that and how lucky you were to have gotten him.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Absolutely.
Q. Why do you think that about him and why is this relationship working?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, when I look at Keith, I think it’s really hard ‑‑ when I think back to the beginning of my Sprint Cup career, I watched the guys move up from engineers to crew chiefs or guys that were on teams up to crew chiefs. You know, like sometimes you could see it, like I think he can make it, and then other times it’s like I don’t know. But I had heard Keith Rodden’s name for years and heard people say just great things about Keith.
Last year I went over to Keith’s house and we sat in his basement and talked for, I don’t know, 15 or 20 minutes, and when I left I came out and I called Max, I’m like, that’s the guy. You’ve got to figure out how to make it work. No matter what you have to pay him, what you have to do, get that guy because I like everything about him. There wasn’t anything negative about that.
Whenever everything worked out, I talked to Kasey on the phone, and Kasey is like, man, you’ve got a really good guy, and I think he’s going to do an amazing job for you. And Keith just all around (inaudible) but also very race savvy, good at calling the races, lots of common sense. He has everything it takes to be extremely successful, and I think tonight showed that he’s willing to take a little bit of a chance on staying out, putting two tires on. That’s hard, those are tough decisions because if it doesn’t work out, I think it’s hard to go home at night as a crew chief when you feel like you’ve made the wrong decision, but he made all the right decisions tonight.
Having confidence in someone, especially as a driver, in the guy that is ultimately responsible for your car which has your name on it and is your life, right, that’s huge, and I just have so much confidence in not only his ability to make my car fast but also to make the right decisions on pit road and make all of ‑‑ just get us to victory lane. He’s done a great job. It’s really hard to say that when someone is sitting three inches from you. It’s really hard. But he’s done a great job.
Q. Jamie, obviously in your career you’ve won some of the biggest races, but you’ve also had certainly the struggles, certainly some down years. Your career seems like there’s been a lot of highs and lows. How have you persevered because you seem to be somebody that takes everything even personally to the nth degree and it really kind of carries with him. How have you handled the highs and lows and persevered to get back to this point tonight?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, it’s really hard. I won’t lie. I feel like I’m harder on myself probably than anyone else is, and when you go through the garage and you look at drivers who are with really good teams, some of them are having bad years, and if you think that they’re not doubting their ability or down on themselves, they are, because that’s just the way our sport works. I think it’s the same way, whether it’s golf or baseball. I think when you’re not doing well, you always wonder if you’re capable of competing at this level.
So I’ve had the absolute best moments of my career and I’ve had some really tough times. It’s hard, but you just have to believe that you get in the right position. For me this year, and Keith coming over and the amount of money and effort that Chip and Felix have put into our team, that makes you believe, that helps. And even though you guys don’t see it most likely, our team, when I look at our year, we’ve been like one of the better cars of a lot of races at certain points in the race, and it just seems like every race this season that we’ve had a car really capable of running well. Bristol we were running fifth and Harvick blew that oil line in front of us, last week we blew a tire out. It seemed like every time we had a good car something would happen. That’s really frustrating and that gets your confidence down. But I texted Keith last week, and I’m like, keep your head up, we’re doing our ‑‑ our cars are really fast, and that’s the hardest part of our sport is to have fast cars. Good luck, bad luck, that happens, but if your cars are slow, that’s hard to fix in a short amount of time, and we’ve had awesome cars. Both teams have run really well this year.
It’s tough when things are going bad, but I’ve got to live some of the greatest victories that you can have in this sport. It’s unbelievable.
Q. I’m curious how much your past history here has impacted your race today, Keith, considering that the 5 had been a very successful car here in the past, were you able to bring anything you learned there specifically for this track, and Jamie
, having won at this track before did that give you the confidence to be able to race Edwards that hard?
KEITH RODDEN: Not really. Everything changed this year with the no ride height rule, so you can start your car out an pit road at whatever ride heights you want to start, so that pretty much wiped out everything we had done the last two years. Just kind of racing here a lot, really paying attention, keeping up with the track, that sort of thing that Ray and Kenny really instilled in me, so that sort of thing is there. It’s still Charlotte, right. But no setup or no technical things, really. Just kind of keeping up with the racetrack.
It’s so hard because you practice during the day. This race was all during the night. The 42 I thought was really good in practice, and I think they were going to have a really good race last night and had a little issue, but I just didn’t pay a lot of attention to it because it wasn’t the same conditions as what we raced tonight, and until we do this, we don’t really know how it’ll be.
Jamie had one thing he kind of wanted to do to the car and we had some other things, and we actually changed a good bit of stuff tonight for the race, and it worked out. I’m happy about that, but it doesn’t always work out. I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but from the technical side, no. From keeping up with the racetrack, yes.
JAMIE McMURRAY: It’s so weird because Keith told me tonight before the race that we had the 5 car setup from last year, so I don’t know where he got that answer from just now. (Laughter.)
Well, I think for me coming here, this is a really good track for me. It has been ‑‑ I mean, I won my first race here, we won here in 2010. This has been just a really good track for me.
When I look at it, I think what Keith is saying about the ride heights is so true. I felt good, us and the 42 were one of the better cars at the test here that we had when we were trying to figure out the spoilers and the front pans and everything, so coming back here, I felt good about it just because it’s been a good track. I don’t really disagree with what Keith is saying, but I think that he has always run well here, so I think that that helps when you go to tracks that typically crew chiefs, engineers run well at and drivers run well at. I think it’s a really good combination.
Q. Jamie, how much has it helped you to have an engineering style crew chief because in the past you’ve worked with guys like Wingo and such. It’s a little different discipline. You talked about how surprised you were that the car stuck on the high groove where I guess there was a lot of debris. You were talking about kicking up dirt and stuff. What made you stick up there?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, a million dollars is what made me say the hell with it, I’m going to go for it. I really enjoy having Keith. I like ‑‑ I guess what I really enjoy about Keith is I feel like when I ask him a question, he always has an answer. I feel like he’s already thought about what I am bringing up, and I ask a lot of questions, and I ask a lot of random questions, and I always feel like he has a good answer, and I think that’s a really good confidence builder for a driver when you can ask a question, whether it’s about pit road, setups, what happened in the Nationwide race last night. I feel like he’s always thinking about it, and I said this last week or the week before, I talked to him on the phone a week or so ago, and he’s like, I woke up at 3:00 in the morning and I was thinking about this, and I was like, that is awesome that that’s what’s going through your head at 3:00 in the morning. I know your wife probably doesn’t enjoy that, but I love that you’re constantly worried about making our car faster because that’s the kind of stuff I think about at 3:00 in the morning. That side of it, I just really enjoy. I feel like he’s always thinking about what we need to do to make our team and our cars better, and it’s also nice like the engineering side of it that Keith can ‑‑ if we need to look at data or simulation he knows how to run that because he’s done it in the past, so when he talks to the engineer, he can speak, they can talk kind of the same lingo, which is great.
Q. When Chip was in earlier, he talked about when you get a sniff of the front you really calm down. Is that something that most drivers do do you think or shouldn’t it be the opposite?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I think ‑‑ I don’t know, that makes me feel good that he thinks that. He said that to me, too, and I didn’t know what he was talking about. The truth is, and it’s this way in any kind of racing, when you get to the front, the cars drive so much better. I talked to Kurt out there before the race started and just telling him I was watching him at Indy and asking about that, and he was explaining about 20 cars back to 10 cars back to when you get close how dirty the air is in IndyCar racing. We were kind of trying to relate it to NASCAR. My side of that is when I get to the front the car drives better because you’re just in better air.
Q. You mentioned a little earlier that you’ve had the opportunity to win so many big races during your career that a lot of drivers never get the chance to. I just wondered if for some reason your career ended tomorrow, how would you feel that you’ve had a successful career based on what you’ve been able to accomplish, or would you feel that not being able to be in the thick of a championship hunt there would somehow be something left on the table?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, I don’t know. That’s a hard question to answer. I think being able to contend for a championship would be a great feeling. I think that’s a different feeling. That’s such a long battle versus race to race and being able to win.
I have been so lucky to be able to, first off, be in NASCAR as long as I have been, and to be able to experience the wins that I have been involved with and the people that I’ve been able to meet. I think it’s been really successful. There’s been a lot of guys come along that don’t ever get to win a race, much less win three of the biggest races of the year.
Yeah, I feel really lucky to be able to do what I’ve done.
Q. What are you going to do with your winnings, Jamie, the extra money?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I’m going to send my two kids and probably my next child that’s not here yet to school. Honest to God, that’s what I’ve thought about. School is really expensive, and you guys don’t know this about me probably but I’m very frugal, just outright tight and I’m paranoid about money every day of my life, and I thought about ‑‑ I’ve looked at what school costs, and colle
ge and just getting to college, and it’s most likely going to go to that.
Q. I saw Marty tweeted something about a train for your kid?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I’ll tell you guys the story. I’ve told it 10 times, but it’s a really great story. This morning the whole family sitting at the breakfast table, Carter and Hazel are eating cereal, I’m having some coffee, kind of looking at the internet. I asked Carter what are you going to do today? And he’s like, well, I’m going to probably play in my sandbox, Dad, and he rattled off a couple of random things that I already knew he was going to do. And he said, Dad, what are you going to do today? And I was like, Carter, I’m going to go race for a million dollars tonight, and he’s like, okay, like no big deal, has no idea what a million bucks is. And I think it’s so weird that my wife, who we really never talk about racing, she never really asks me anything about the car or if I think I can win, very seldom does she say that. She’s like, do you think you can win tonight? And I’m like, I don’t know. We’ve got to get our car a little better. It’s a good track. I said if we get our car better I think we have a chance, and she’s like, Carter, if Dad were to win tonight, what would you want? And of course most of you if you said you could have anything in the world with a million dollars you would pick something really expensive, right, and he’s like, I’d like a new train set. I’m like, okay. It’s yours, Carter. Actually whether we win tonight or not you can have a new train set, either way.
That’s really cool. I can’t wait to get home. I’m going to end up staying here tonight because I have a small buzz right now, but I can’t wait to get home and see them in the morning and bring the trophy home and get to share that moment with Carter.
Carter doesn’t quite get winning and losing. After the Talladega race where we ripped the splitter off our car and we’re like 10 laps down and we almost got them all back, I was a little frustrated after the race, and went back to my motor home and I’m going to take my suit off. I walk in the bus, I open the door, and Carter is standing on the ottoman in our bus, and I walk in and he puts both of his hands in the air, and he’s like, Dad, Denny Hamlin won, woohoo! Like he’s excited. I’m like, Carter, I love you. I don’t know what else to say. He doesn’t know that I should be the one to win, right, and I really don’t care if Denny Hamlin won the race. So I can’t wait to go home and tell him that dad won last night.
Q. How about you, Keith? I’m sure you get a few extra dollars.
KEITH RODDEN: Actually I’m not sure. Everything he says is probably about how I am. As frugal as I am, my wife is even tighter.
JAMIE McMURRAY: She’s in here. That’s awesome.
KEITH RODDEN: She’s not even embarrassed about it, because she knows it’s true. Yeah, same kind of thing, really. Got to protect for the future and the kids. Hopefully we have a house that we’ll never move out of. I don’t want to move again anyway, ever. Yeah, I just don’t really think about stuff like that to be honest with you, just think about racing and when we’re at home at the house or on an off weekend like tomorrow, just looking forward to spending time with the family.
I don’t know what it is with people because we have a two‑and‑a‑half year old, almost a three‑year‑old, she’ll be three in August, and everyone gives us stuff for her. It’s like no one thinks that we buy ’em my anything at all, so she has all this stuff, and I think we’ve spent 50 bucks on toys in three years. It’s awesome. So if anybody wants to donate anything ‑‑ no, just kidding. No big plans to spend any money.