Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Richmond–Jamie McMurray

SEPTEMBER 15, 2016

JAMIE McMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Chase Media Day and discussed how this year’s Chase will be different than last year, the impact of having two Chip Ganassi Racing cars in the playoffs and many other topics. Full Transcript:

How is year two going to be different than your first year in the Chase?

“That’s what I was looking for. Well, when I look at the Chase last year, over the years of not being in it, I felt like somebody always kind of self-eliminated themselves early on. I think it was a little bit different when the first race was at Loudon, because Loudon is one of the races on restarts that late in the race people get together and can run well all day long and get a bad finish.

“And I think someone told me earlier our average finish was like 11th I think in the first three races of the Chase. I mean, honestly I would have taken that before the Chase started. Kind of guaranteed yourself into the next round. But with the way it works with a winner being able to advance, it knocked me out.
So I don’t know. I mean, it was interesting. We just did a Facebook live with all of the Chevy drivers, and it’s interesting to listen to some. Stewart, Kyle Larson, and myself, all kind of felt like you don’t race the first three races differently than you do the first 26, right? You just do the same thing. There’s a lot of cars in it. If you have three consistent finishes, you should advance through.

“And then Harvick had a completely different philosophy. He feels like you have to up your game, it’s different. Like, I mean, it’s interesting to hear the two different mindsets going into it.

“But I don’t know. I don’t think you do anything different.”

You talked about all the different cars, especially in the first round. You’ve had the experience of not being a Chase driver and being a Chase driver. How have those experiences changed what you expect out of a non-Chase driver?

“Yeah, so, you know what, I think the only way that you’re sympathetic to the Chase guys, if you’re not in the Chase, is if you have been in it and then you’re not. And since I’ve been on both sides of it, you know, I think when you’re in the Chase you feel like the other guys that aren’t should give you some more room. But that’s not what happens. That’s not the reality. So I go into it with a mindset that they’re not going to give you any extra room, and if they do it’s a bonus.

“But what you have to realize is that the guys that aren’t in the Chase, they’re all racing to win every race, as well. They have every right to race you however they choose. I don’t really expect them to do anything different.

“I think it’s different when you get to Homestead. It’s a different race. I think it’s a different scenario.”

With being in the Chase last year, was it different in how you raced each other, especially the first three races? A lot of times, you race up towards the front, there’s a little bit more give-and-take because everybody understands it’s in their best interest not to mess everybody up. In the Chase, is that courtesy still there or is it more cutthroat among you guys, the Chase drivers?

“I think no matter where you’re racing at in the pack, if you’re racing someone else that’s in the Chase, I feel like you probably have to be a little more careful around them. If you were to get into somebody, both of you in the Chase, you get into them, you eliminate them, most likely it would be no different than going to Richmond and trying to make it into the Chase. If that were to happen, the retaliation would be there.
So I think, you know, you probably are racing those guys a little more cautiously, just making sure you don’t take anybody out.”

How big is it to have two CGR cars in there?

“Well, it’s huge for Chip and for everyone that builds the cars at our shop and is a part of, you know, bringing our cars to where we started the year to where we are right now.

“You know, as far as having a teammate in the Chase, I don’t think that really changes anything. When I look at last year with Kyle not being in it, me being in it, you know, those guys are still racing to win every week.

“It might even be harder, the fact you have a teammate in it, because last year there were times, like maybe at Dover, that on some of the restarts he might let you in line knowing what you’re racing for versus the one spot he’s giving up, where maybe that wouldn’t have happened, especially if you’re both not trying to advance to the next round.

“But I don’t really view it being much different.”

With Kyle Larson being your teammate, you’ve seen him mature over the years. Do you feel like that’s really helping strengthen CGR right now?

“Well, I mean, I don’t think that hurts. But ultimately, I mean, since Kyle started in 2014, and I feel like he would say the same thing here, even if we show up with a little different setups, typically if you read our notes, we say the same things about the cars.

“So I don’t know that him maturing has changed anything. It’s ultimately about, you know, the team giving you good cars and your team making good adjustments at the track.

“I mean, I feel like our team has proven that this year, more than anyone else, where at the beginning of the season we were 15th- to 20th-place cars each week, as they got our cars better, both of us just continued to move up. :

“I don’t know. I’m not going to be theoretical. Too many different scenarios to play out.”

What are your expectations?

“Well, to win is your expectation. I feel like if you interview anyone today and they don’t say that, they shouldn’t be here right now.”

Will it be disappointing if you don’t win, though?

“Yeah, it will be disappointing to everybody.”

This is supposed to be a good rookie class. What are you seeing from them?

“Who are the two rookies?”

Buescher and Chase.

“Well, I feel like Chase’s year started off a little bit better than where they are now. You know, the first 10 races, it just seemed like every week he would run third to eighth or whatever. Like every week they ran good and had a lot of speed. Probably had a lot of good luck also throughout the races.

“It seems like recently it’s been a lot of the opposite, a lot of bad luck. But that team still at Michigan contended to win the race, and they’ve shown a lot of speed. He’s done a really good job.”

Question Regarding Chris Buescher:

“I mean, certainly the expectations there are different for Chris Buescher’s team versus Chase Elliott filling in for Jeff Gordon.”

How so?

“I mean, two different — one was in Jeff Gordon’s car that won five championships, and the other’s not. Pretty big difference.”

Can you write Buescher off, though, given the equipment is not what everybody else has?

“I mean, I don’t think you write anybody off. That team, I mean, at Bristol they ran really well. I feel like it seems like they run better on the shorter tracks than the mile-and-a-half and bigger tracks. We do have a few short tracks. But the mile-and-a-half’s are really what you need to run well at in the Chase to do well.
I don’t think you write anybody off.”

Are you going to approach the Chase any differently this year?

“No. I mean, when I look at our Chase last year, averaging like 11th or 12th through the first three races, I think almost everybody would take that right now and feel like you would advance to the next round.

“You know, it’s somewhat unique in that the winner, if you have a guy that has two bad races, then wins, he automatically will advance through. So that shakes it up a little bit.”

“Harvick did that in our group last year. But I don’t think you do anything different, no.”

Question about having a teammate in the Chase:

“I mean, I don’t think that changes anything. I don’t think that having one teammate or five teammates in the Chase or four teammates would really change anything of how you race or what you do.”

Has this racetrack been kind to you, less than kind to you over the course of time?

“Well, the best part of this racetrack is it hasn’t been repaved. Certainly the repaves are really hard to get a tire that has falloff, that you think races well. And this track, for the last seven or eight years, has developed two lines or three lines where you can run right on the bottom, or as the run goes on, the tires wear out, you start to move up against the wall. That’s what everybody in our sport wants, is to have an option to move around on the racetrack and have multiple lines.”