Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Talladega–Jamie McMurray

OCTOBER 17, 2014

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway, and discussed racing at Talladega, race strategy, teammates at Talladega, car setups and other topics. Full transcript:

ON BEING AT TALLADEGA: “Talladega is one of the more laid-back weekends for all of us. It’s typically one practice to see if the car feels good. I’m glad they base qualifying if it gets rained out on your practice speed because it gets all the cars on the lap for at least one session. Then it is pretty laid back for the rest of the weekend until the race starts. So, it is one of the calmer weekends we get to have.”

IS THERE ANY SAFE FORMULA TO GUARANTEE THAT YOU ARE AROUND AT THE END OF A TALLADEGA RACE? “Absolutely not. I’ve rode in the back, and won a race here before. I’ve also rode in the back and been crashed. So, I think the best way to go about it is to just race all day long. The downside to riding in the back is first off you don’t get to work with anybody and see who you think is going to want to work with you. You develop these relationships throughout the race, with someone you’ve drafted with in the past, or it might be somebody completely new. You kind of make friends as the day goes along, and I think it is good to develop those, and to race all day long so when it comes down to the end, you know who is going to stick with you. I was in the back here in the spring race, and they had a two-car wreck and I ended up going through the grass and got the front of my car ripped off trying to be safe. I think the best plan is to race all day long and try to stay up front.”

IF IT IS A CALM WEEKEND BEFORE START OF RACE, DOES THAT GET YOU READY FOR INTENSITY OF RACING ON SUNDAY? “I think that when you look at even the start of the race…pre-race here, it’s pretty laid back because you have 400-450 miles of not as intense racing has what you have in the last 50 laps, or last 100 miles. I don’t think you can get all worked up now, or even in the first half of the race because it means nothing. So for the most part it is about not getting torn up and just being there for realistically the 50-75 laps.”

IS IT REALISTIC TO THINK THAT TEAMMATES CAN HELP CHASE TEAMMATES IN ANY SIGNIFICANT FASHION? “I don’t think so. I think that when you get on the track you help who is going to benefit you the most. I think you are going to be grasping for a story. It is going to be really hard to hang anyone out here intentionally. Typically when someone gets hung out here it is because they have made a bad decision, and you don’t want to go with them so they end up getting hung out. I don’t know, I think you are grasping there for a story.”

TALK ABOUT THE NEW TALLADEGA QUALIFYING FORMAT AND STRATEGY? “I know that there is a new qualifying format. I have to be honest, I have no idea what it is. I talked to (Mike) Helton after I think the Daytona race, and they talked about the ideas that they had. I remember at the time saying it all sounds really good. I think it is great that it is going to be in a shorter amount of time. I kind of know what is going on. I don’t know 100%. But, at the same time, I’ve been terrible at this format of qualifying at (restrictor) plate races. I don’t think I have made it into the second round yet, and it is a little frustrating at the time. But it really doesn’t matter where you qualify here, so that’s why I haven’t paid much attention to it.”

DO YOU SENSE ANY SORT OF URGENCY OR FRUSTRATION FROM KYLE LARSON, AND HAVE YOU GIVEN HIM ANY WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT? “He wants to win, and he’s done a really good job of putting himself in the right position. Maybe the caution flags haven’t fallen exactly the way that they need to. But as long as he keeps doing what he is doing, I don’t….Urgent? He’s 21, everything is urgent in his life right now. He’ll get to have plenty of victories. He’s done a really good job, but in any of my conversations with him, there hasn’t been any panic more than what there is for everybody else in the garage.”

HOW HARD IS IT TO WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH THE PACK HERE AT TALLADEGA? “I feel like every plate race it gets harder and harder to go from the back to the front. I remember years ago riding in the back and saying with 50 laps to go, or whatever number we picked out, we’ll go to the front. It seemed at the time you could do that, but now you can’t because we get three wide, and we run three wide for most of the fuel run. It will single file out, or maybe it is a double wide at some point. Most of the run is three wide, and you make your move like most places on a restart and you hope you can get in the row that is moving to the front, whether that is making it the third row, wherever it is…inside, middle outside. It’s hard to pass after that. It is hard to go four-wide. People don’t want to go with you when you get past three. So, I think every plate race gets harder. I think some of that comes from everybody getting smarter about plate racing. Maybe being more patient. You used to just love the guys that were impatient because they always make the more and no one would go with them and that would make your row go forward. You just don’t have that as much as you used to.”

ON A WEEK-TO-WEEK BASIS, HOW SIMILAR ARE YOUR SETUP TO KYLE’S SETUP? “It’s pretty close. At the beginning of the year, there were some setup stuff that they worked out that Kyle really liked, or that I liked and the other didn’t. Once we figured out the differences-it’s not much-both teams have kind of stuck with that setup through most of the intermediate tracks. The short tracks are closer than what we have at the 1.5 mile tracks.

“It’s pretty close. If one of us gets off in some point in practice, the other team is able to put that guy’s setup in and be right where the other team is. The cars are all built identical; I think most teams are on that plan. So at the shop when they guys build chassis, they don’t know if it is mine or Kyles’. Same thing with the bodies. It is pretty much all the same. It is the setups that are a little different, but they are close enough that we can switch back and forth.”

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR FOUNDATION THAT BENEFITS AUTISM? “It goes in spurts with what we are doing. Artie (Kempner) has already been the biggest contributor to Autism in the racing community. So we have obviously gotten to do a lot of cool stuff with his golf tournament. It just depends on the time of year. Certainly April is a huge month for everybody in the Autism community, but right now there isn’t a lot going on.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK CUP DRIVERS CARE WHAT THEIR PEERS THINK ABOUT THEM – OTHER DRIVERS, NOT YOUR OWN TEAM? ”Without having a list in front of me, that’s a hard question to answer. I think it depends on the individual. I don’t know that it has to do with racing as much as with life. The people that worry about what other people think of them, I don’t know, that’s a ….. You should just save that question for Matt (Kenseth). Well, I do care. I have to be honest. I think most people in this room. I don’t worry necessarily about what people think of me, but I hate disappointing people. I want people to respect me, and to think a lot of me whether it is my ability, the kind of Dad I am, the kind of person I am…yes that means a lot to me to have people think highly of me. And, if I am being honest, it would hurt my feeling when I don’t think people respect me or think a lot of me.”