MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
PRE-SEASON MEDIA AVAILABILITY
CHARLOTTE MEDIA TOUR
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JANUARY 24, 2017
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Charlotte Media tour and discussed his opinion on various aspects of the new race format, on seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, and on Carl Edwards’ stepping away from the sport. Full transcript:
COULD YOU JUST TALK ABOUT THE NEW FORMAT?
“So, is Jim Utter in here?
“Oh, that’s too bad because I was going to compliment him. I heard his description of why he liked the change on the radio this morning and I really hadn’t thought about that. What he said that really resonated with me is that our sport was 500-mile races, 600-mile races; it was all about being able to make it to the end. And even when I first started racing, at a track like Martinsville, you would always have at least one car run out of brakes, maybe more. Somebody always broke a rear gear. It seemed like every race there was someone at a 1.5-mile track that would blow up; maybe two people. And if it was an engine builder, maybe all those engines would blow up in the race. So, we just don’t have that anymore, right? Like our cars are so good now, the engines are so good, we don’t have any engine failures; a few a year. Nobody really runs out of brakes at Martinsville anymore. We don’t tend to break gears. So, I like the idea because it’s changed and I think we needed the same change to happen. I’ve heard the word, ‘exciting’. I think that’s just the easiest way to explain it.
“But, I like the strategy that’s going to come from the format. And the best way to describe that is if we go to a track that it rains a lot and they have to have a competition caution, it’s great when the caution happens to fall 10 laps before that because you get some strategy. You get people that put tires on. Sometimes the leaders don’t. If it’s a track where the tires are really important, it creates a little bit of excitement, right? You have a lot of passing going on. Then the caution comes out 10 laps later and you get to see if those guys all pit. Did they make up enough ground? So, I like the fact that we’re going to have that every week.
“I also like the fact that at the plate races (where) I have been on the side of riding in the back. It might be one of the most boring things in your life to ride seven seconds behind a pack at Daytona or Talladega, just to get in a wreck at the end. Even though you’ve done all the right things, you still get caught up in the wreck. I like that the Duels and the races are going to pay for the segments. I also like the fact that at any track that we go to, if you run really well all day long, you’re rewarded for that. And if for some reason your engine does blow up or you get caught-up in a wreck at the end, if you ran well all day long you’re going to get something out of that. I can’t find any negative side to it.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON ISN’T ALWAYS THE MOST POPULAR DRIVER AMONG FANS BECAUSE HE WINS SO MUCH. AMONG DRIVERS, AS A PERSON AND A DRIVER, WHAT’S HIS REPUTATION?
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Jimmie. I feel like he’s the guy that you would like not to like because he does win all the time. He’s got a beautiful wife. He’s got great looking kids. He just kind of like has everything. But, he’s just always so nice. And I have known him since 2000, I believe, when we were running in the Busch Series together. And I have had some great moments with him, prior to getting married; we’ve had a lot of fun times together. But, I see him talking to new guys that come to the sport or maybe it’s a rookie in the Truck Series, he’s really nice to everyone. And I couldn’t find anything bad to say about him. He’s a really great guy.”
A FELLOW MISSOURIAN, LAYS DOWN HIS HELMET AND STEPS OUT OF THE CAR. HAVE YOU EVER HAD THE THOUGHT THAT YOU WANTED TO STEP OUTSIDE OF THE CAR, BEING FROM MISSOURI AS WELL?
“Um, I don’t know if the state you’re born in really has anything to do with the retirement factor. Seems like a pretty big stretch (laughter). I’m going to try to link those, but I don’t think I can.
“I was completely taken aback by Carl’s (Edwards) decision. Maybe there is someone in here that knew, but I was blindsided by that. Honestly, I hope that more comes of that story. I didn’t actually watch the press conference. I read some quotes from it just because I was curious, right? I don’t really know Carl enough to call him and ask him outright. My gut tells me that maybe we’ll hear more later on. But, yeah, I was pretty taken back by that.”
ON THE FORMAT CHANGE, HOW MUCH WERE YOU AND KYLE LARSON KEPT IN THE KNOW DURING THE OFF-SEASON. WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU TO HEAR HOW YOUR PROFESSION WAS CHANGING?
“I think all the drivers were kept in the loop, whether it’s through the group-me-text messages that we have kind of going on, or through the team. I actually think I learned more through the team than I did on the texts. And it was somewhat of a progressive discussion where some things that we talked about didn’t happen and other things we didn’t talk about did.
“So, when the announcement came out, I already had a really good idea of what was going to happen. When I read Twitter, I got angry as I read the negativity around it from the fans because I think it’s so hard to criticize something before you see it, right? We live in a world where I feel like people don’t like change, unless it’s for the President. That was supposed to be funny (laughter). That was supposed to be like a really funny joke. I feel like Matt Kenseth right there at that moment. His jokes worked? Good for him (laughter). So, I think change is hard. I actually had a phone conversation with a friend that’s involved in NASCAR that has been around for a long time and he was kind of on that same page. And I called him out and I’m like I don’t understand how you can be upset about it when we haven’t even tried it yet. Personally, I like everything about it. To me, it’s what we needed. I was somewhat involved in listening to it and hearing the different steps. So, I think not just being hit with everything at one time, it wasn’t quite as shocking as maybe it was to a fan that didn’t have any idea. And then it all came about.”
JIM UTTER IS HERE IF YOU WANT TO TELL HIM
“I gave you props, earlier. I did. I don’t know when you did the interview, but I listened to you on the radio this morning when you gave your description of why you liked the new format change and the fact that we don’t have as many engines blowing up. We don’t have brake failures. And that it’s not necessarily about making it to the end of the races now because the equipment is so good, the teams are so good, and the drivers are so good. And I thought that was the best description I’ve heard so far. So, nice work.”
CAN I ASK A QUESTION THEN? EVERYBODY JOKES THAT YOU CAN’T GET ANYONE TO AGREE ON ANYTHING IN NASCAR. WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT ALL THESE DIFFERENT GROUPS WERE ABLE TO COME TOGETHER AND AT LEAST AGREE ON SOME OF THE MAIN TENANTS THAT WOULD PRODUCE THIS? A LOT OF TIMES THERE SEEMS TO BE COMPETING INTERESTS IN NASCAR.
“Not completely surprised. I feel like over the past two or three years we’ve made a lot of changes to the cars and we’ve kind of worn that dial out even though, in my opinion, we went the right direction just getting the mid-corner speeds down and getting tires that fall off a little bit more. So, I think all that was great. This, to me, was just the next step. From what I understand and from what I have been told, I think all of the teams that were involved with NASCAR in making the decisions; everyone was kind of pulling the rope in the same direction. So, I’m not completely shocked by that because I think you had a large group of grown-ups in a room that all were trying to get the same thing accomplished.”