MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
PLAYOFF MEDIA DAY
NASCAR HALL OF FAME
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 13, 2017
JAMIE McMURRAY, #1 McDONALD'S / CESSNA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Playoff Media Day. Full transcript:
CHIP (GANASSI) HAS BOTH YOU (AND KYLE LARSON) IN THE PLAYOFFS. HE HAS (SCOTT) DIXON GOING FOR THE (INDYCAR) CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR CHIP?
"I wouldn't say the Cup side is more important but I think he's as excited or more excited than the IndyCar side... just because he's won so many IndyCar championships and it seems like that team is in contention every year for the championship. On the NASCAR side, not as many years has he been in contention for that. With the 42 team, they've been the second-best team all year long. I've known Chip for a long time. He's in as good a mood and is as relaxed as I've seen him in a long time."
YOU'VE WORKED WITH SCOTT (DIXON) A LOT. WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES HIM SPECIAL?
"I'm not sure. I saw a headline on a story where Mike Hull thought Scott was one of the greats. I couldn't agree more. I tell people all the time that I've been able to be teammates with a lot of people over the years and getting to be Scott's teammate at the (Rolex 24 At Daytona) and getting in the same car within a minute of him being and seeing the speed he has lap after lap, the endurance, the fuel mileage he can make while still making speed... there are just a lot of special things about Scott. I feel that Scott is never seems way too high and never seems way too low. It seems like the same guy every time you see him."
WERE YOU FEELING ANY PRESSURE TO GET IN THE PLAYOFFS?
"Going into Richmond, I felt like we were in a better position than we were the year before. It took somebody winning in order to knock us out. But I knew going into Richmond that the 14, 22 and 77 were all going to qualify well. It seems like when you have to win, people show up for those. All those cars ran really well. There's always pressure to make the playoffs. This has probably been the best year for me on the NASCAR side. Even though we haven't won, we finished eighth in points. For our organization to have Kyle second and we were eighth, it's the best year for Chip Ganassi Racing. We were super consistent all year long in both cars."
HOW DID THE TEAM GET TO THIS POINT?
"There's not one thing; there's a lot of elements to that. I think rules changes benefitted us a little bit. Simulation, aero, engineering... a lot of factors that led to this point. There was never one button. It was every department finding a small amount and it all came together. The best part about where we are is that we know how they got there. In 2010, I remember talking about how fast the cars were. I remember there was more than one guy in the shop - they had just merged - and no one really knew. We had done this merger and the 42 was running really well the year before, and they weren't sure why. That was scary because when things started not going in the right direction, they didn't know how to get it back. At this point, everything has been methodical. If we get off a little bit and start going down the wrong path, they know how to bring it back. And every week they make the cars better. When I listen in our team meetings, they talk about our trips to the wind tunnel and our trip to the K-rig... everything they are working on. They keep finding little small things every single week and getting our cars better each week."
HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THAT PROCESS IS LIKE?
"When 2011 came and we started going the wrong way, it takes a long time to turn that around. Max Jones (managing director) coming in was a big asset to our company. He did a really good job of hiring a lot of the right people. There's different departments within the company - an aero department, a chassis department, a suspension room. There are so many different elements that it takes to get the cars to the level that they are at right now. It's not one thing. It's all these little things that have added up to the cars being where they're at. It's getting both the pit crews better, getting both the road crews better. It's everything."
EVERY TEAM IN ANY SPORT WANTS TO WIN EVERY WEEK. I'M SURE IN YEARS PAST THAT WASN'T THE CASE BECAUSE THIS TEAM WAS BUILDING AND THAT DOESN'T ALWAYS COME AS FAST AS EVERYONE WANTS...
"For me when I left the first time in 2005 and 2006... we've all experienced where you think the grass is greener on the other side. After a year or two, I wish I had never left. Things weren't the way that I expected them to be. It was a lot different culture than the Ganassi Racing team. That's the biggest difference: the environment, the culture and the way things are within the walls. When I went back, Chip and I went through a lot with some of the sponsorship details that are behind the scenes that no one knows about. Chip went from being my car owner and boss to in 2010 being friends. We've been great friends since. When I came back in 2010, I said I'll never leave here. This is the environment I want to be a part of. Our friendship had gotten to a different level."
THAT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS OVERNIGHT.
"I think Chip's belief in me was a huge part of that. I remember before I even signed my contract, Chip said there were a few other drivers that were trying to get in the car at the time. I remember him saying, 'Look, whether the sponsors stay or don't, I want you driving my car because I think you're the best guy for the job.' And that meant a tremendous amount to me. With coming in and not having the car completely sold out in 2010, we had Bass Pro Shops and McDonald's.. we had a few races sold; I don't remember the exact details but we didn't have the rest of the races sold. We won the Daytona 500 and basically the car sold out. Even though there was a super-professional environment between driver and car owner... I tell people when Chip calls me we very seldom discuss racing. He calls and asks me about my family and kids and life in general. Everyone likes something different. I feel like I have a big heart, and I feel like Chip does too. For him to look at me as more than a driver means the world to me."
DID HIS CONFIDENCE IN YOU ELEVATE YOUR GAME?
"I don't know. Chip has been so successful in every form of racing. When you have a guy that stands up for you like that, it means a lot but the reality is that we had really fast plate cars in 2010, we had awesome engines and good cars. We were able to win the Daytona 500, at the Brickyard and ran well at a lot of tracks. I think the biggest thing is that I felt at home. I keep saying culture because we still talk about that in our organization. In a work environment, you want everything to like where they go to work. I feel our organization has that environment where if you came from somewhere else and you showed up that this would be the environment you'd want to work in because of the way you're treated. It's super serious but at the same time there's also enjoyment and laughter that goes with it. I don't know if everywhere has that. I really enjoy that part of being back there. It felt like it fits me as a person."
LAS VEGAS DOESN'T HAVE YOU LISTED UNDER THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS. DO YOU LIKE BEING THAT PERSON THAT IS UNDER THE RADAR?
"I don't care. I'd like to say that I do but it doesn't matter what the odds are. We had a team luncheon yesterday with the #1 road crew, shop guys and pit crew. At the beginning of the season when we did pep speech at media day, everyone would say, 'I'm excited.' That's the word we all use, right? When I got in there, I said I'm not excited; I'm motivated. I want to go out and do well. I'm motivated to have the best season that we can have. When we had our meeting the other day, I told them that I'm still motivated but honestly I'm really excited. I'm excited that we've run as well and as consistent as we have to this point. For our sport, you race the first 26 races to get this point and then it essentially gets reset. This year - even though there are some stage points that have been accumulated by a few people - when you look from sixth to where I am, it's not many points. That's essentially one stage of racing that could eliminated in the first stage at Chicago. I'm excited to go out and hopefully put together the best 10 races of our season and get to Victory Lane."
WITHOUT CHIP, DO YOU THINK YOU'D HAVE A NASCAR CAREER? IT SEEMED LIKE HE HELPED YOU A LOT AT THE BEGINNING AND HAVING SOMEONE WHO HAD LEVEL OF EXPERIENCE IN RACING ALREADY... IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE THAT TYPE OF FIGURE TO WORK WITH DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO REACH THIS LEVEL?
"I don't know... that's a big speculation. It's a lot different when I came along. When I got the opportunity to drive for Chip in 2002 with 2003 my first year, it was a lot different. Teams had developmental drivers and it seemed like you stayed in the Truck series for a couple of years then you moved up to Busch and then moved up to Cup if you were successful. I don't know. Who knows... that's a tough one to answer."
I WAS THERE THAT FIRST NIGHT YOU WON AT CHARLOTTE AND THE EMOTION ISN'T SOMETHING YOU SEE OFTEN. DOES RACING STILL GET YOU THAT EMOTIONAL AND EXCITED AT TIMES?
"It was certainly different then. At that time when I won at Charlotte in 2002, I had never gotten to drive for a top-tier team. When I was racing for Brewco (Motorsports), even though they had won some races, they weren't considered a top-tier Busch series team at the time. There's such a different level from a top-tier Busch team to a Cup team... the quality of the cars, brand new engines every week and everything that goes with that. It was so much different and I was just overwhelmed the first seven races."
YOU SAID YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS BUT WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF YOUR CHANCES TO MAKE A RUN?
"When you look at the format and the way it's laid out, it's a race-by-race scenario. If we go to Chicago and three or four of those guys have bad races then it changes the outlook for the next races for the other guys. If you have somebody who has a bad race at Chicago... if it's someone like the 78 who has won a few races this year then you know they are able to win one of the next two. You have to look at it race by race."
--- Team Chevy ---