NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona
January 13, 2012
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: We have the two most recent Daytona 500 winners here, Trevor Bayne, driver of the No.21 Ford Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford, and Jamie McMurray, driver of the No.1 Bass Pro Shops McDonald's Chevrolet. Guys, just talk a little bit about the test so far and maybe perhaps what it would mean to be a Daytona 500 winner yet again.
JAMIE McMURRAY: The testing has been kind of wild so far. It seems like we don't know exactly what the rules are going to be, so it's a little bit hard to do all of your testing when you're not 100 percent sure on the plate or what the‑‑ like when you do the drafting, if you don't know exactly the size of the radiator opening‑‑ and I'm not criticizing anybody because everyone is kind of working together to figure out how we can break up the tandem drafting, and I've spent 15 or 20 minutes two or three times over in the NASCAR hall there just telling them what I'm feeling and trying to help what we can do to break that up.
It seems like they're going the right direction. I think they're making the valve‑‑ they're going to go down a little bit more on the valve it sounds like and tape the grille up some more. Sounds like they're going in the right direction. As of right now you can still do the tandem drafting, and it's still faster even than when we were out there in the big pack and it seems a lot safer than when we were in the big pack. The cars moved around a lot more than what we used to have.
It's normal testing, but it's a little bit chaotic, as well.
TREVOR BAYNE: That makes it normal testing then if it's chaotic, right? This place is just a really cool place to come to, and it's always exciting to drive whether it's testing or being here or the race. Like he said, it's been a little bit wild. We're trying to make changes on our car. The Wood Brothers have mostly done single car runs today, so I haven't been out in too many packs. We went out the one time at 1:00 today for the 20‑lap session, and our car seemed to show a lot of speed, and I had a good time with it.
I don't have a lot of experience doing that kind of pack drafting, so for me it was something totally new again, just like last year coming into the two‑car deal. So it was kind of fresh, and totally different mindset. If that's how it's going to be, you kind of just think for yourself, and if there's a one‑car gap you can squeeze into it instead of having to have the two‑car gap.
I enjoyed it. I think it can be fun, but it's definitely a lot more nerve‑wracking than the two‑car draft. With the two‑car draft you can obviously just sit back a little bit more and wait it out and then go when you needed to and you weren't three wide for so long, and it was a little bit easier to make passes.
But if this is how the racing is going to be, I think it could be fun. But they're working really hard to figure out which way to go, if still the two‑car drafting will be the best racing, and I think they're doing a good job of figuring out what the fans are going to enjoy.
Q. Jamie, how is this year going to be different? I know you've changed a lot of personnel. What's your mindset, things like that?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, Chip has made a really big commitment. I mean, they changed a lot of management. There's been a tremendous amount of changes to the 42 car. There's been quite a few changes to the 1 car. Hired a lot of new people from different organizations. You know, we hired John Probst from Red Bull, and he's done a really good job I feel like with getting everything organized.
You know, the frustrating part, guys, is that we won races with the guys that were there before, won some really big races. But I think the morale in the shop got way down, and everyone‑‑ you know, you start criticizing everybody, and Chip needed to make a change to get everybody pumped back up.
And I think John has done a really good job with the way that he's structured everything. He's helped to bring in a lot of key people, whether it's the mechanical side of it or the aero side of the cars. He's brought in some really good people and opened our eyes to things that maybe we weren't looking at.
I don't think you're going to see just immediate results because it's going to take a little time, and our speedway cars don't seem to be just where they need to be yet. But from my perspective looking at it, it seems much more organized and everyone seems to be behind us. One thing that I remember about going over to CGR when I left Roush was walking through the shop and everybody in there being proud of what they had built, and I remember walking through there and a guy grabbing a gas pedal and saying, look, I built this gas pedal, and it's eight grams lighter than we what we had last year. Every single person had that mindset in there of being proud of what they had built.
We lost a little bit of that last year because we were changing our car so much, it was something different every week. I feel like guys are back in that same mindset of being proud of what they're producing, and they've made our cars much more adjustable than what they were last year. We'll be trying a lot of stuff to start the season off, and obviously you make changes thinking they're going to be better.
As of right now that's the way we feel, that Chip has made some good changes, and I feel like we've got some really good teams right now.
Q. This is a little bit off track, but if both of you guys could address this, you're both athletes with strong religious convictions. Tim Tebow has gotten some flak honestly in some circles for his beliefs. Can you guys address that as to why sometimes having strong religious beliefs turns into such a polarizing topic or can be?
TREVOR BAYNE: Well, it's polarizing to me because it's something different that I think our world needs and I think it desires, and so when you look at somebody and you see something different, you wonder what that is, then I think Tim Tebow has made that very clear what that is, and I think that's our mission is to make it very clear. If we look different from the world, it's because of Jesus.
I think he's done a lot in my life. I can't speak for Jamie. I've seen some things that he's seen the same way. It's what we're here for. I started racing for me, I started racing because I wanted to be a driver and I wanted to be successful and I wanted to win races and I wanted to have the most followers on Twitter or the most fans or whatever it is.
But I think that's changed over the past few years. I got to go to something that was really incredible this year called Passion, which is for 18 to 25 year olds, and it really got me fired up to see what this is all about, that it's not about me, it never has been. It's not about what I do here, but it's about what happens for the kingdom. I think this year I'm a lot more fired up about storing my treasures in heaven instead of here.
I think it's a really great thing that Tim Tebow is staying firm in what he believes in. He's not letting that change him. I read an article today in USA Today that talked about that, and I can see how that would be really hard when you have that much flak that you're catching, whether it's good or it's bad, if people are talking about it so much, it would be easy to change and waver, but I think the reason he doesn't is because it's real. I think Jesus is something that can really change lives, and I think that if we believe all that he says he is and we believe like we say we do, then we'll look different just like he does and like we're trying to do here.
JAMIE McMURRAY: My take on Tim Tebow is that he's on TV every Sunday, and he is the quarterback of an NFL football team, so he's the spotlight, as well, every Sunday, and he's fairly vocal about his religious beliefs. I think it's really easy‑‑ everyone has their own way of expressing themselves. I don't know, I think it's easy to criticize. It's one thing to be a follower, but to be a leader is different.
You know, I think he's done a really good job at just expressing the way he feels. I don't know, I mean, I think that's fine. I really don't get why he catches so much criticism or so much flak, but it is what it is, and I think it's cool that he stands his ground.
Q. Here we are back for the first official test for the Daytona 500. Can you even wrap your arms around how much different it must be for you going in this year compared to last year? Here you are and you're the defending Daytona 500 champion.
TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, that sounds crazy to me because I never would have expected coming into this last year that we would be the winner. It's really humbling. I'm kind of the same mindset that I was last year. Last year I came in thinking there's no way we can win this, and now I'm coming back saying there's no way we can win two in a row, but then the Wood Brothers keep showing up with great race cars and they keep showing up with the guys that can do it and that can win, and I think that's what's so important. These guys put a lot of work into their speedway cars. The Wood Brothers have just given me such great cars all year long. Last year at the speedways I think we qualified in the top 10 every week, which shows the raw speed, and then they raced well.
So coming back here now, it's a crazy feeling because I would never expect to have one of these trophies sitting in my room, much less to be going for two of them, and I have that opportunity again with the Wood Brothers.
All off‑season long we didn't know what was going to happen, I kind of sat back to see if I was going to be running a Nationwide car or a Cup car or what I'd be doing, if Stenhouse would be in the 21. Nobody really knew. I think even the Wood Brothers were at a loss for words for a little while. And then finally it all came back together that we could be together again, and there's no better team for me to be driving for I don't think. I think the Wood Brothers are great racers that have done it for a long time, and they just want to race.
That's what's so cool about them. They're not here for anything different than that, and I said that out at the fan forum, but they just want to race. I think Eddie Wood, Len Wood, Glen's special is on tonight at 8:00, and when I watched that special I just saw the depth of that family and how long their history has been. It's an honor to drive for the oldest team in NASCAR that's still standing, and it's no wonder that they're still winning races and I think we can do it again this year, we're just going to have to work really hard at it.
My trophy is in Knoxville, Tennessee, sitting on the dresser that I had growing up. I found in this dresser‑‑ so I was home for the last two weeks in Knoxville, and I was looking around, and I found a big trunk in that dresser and it had all my old schoolwork in it. I found this thing that I wrote in kindergarten, and it's kind of embarrassing. But I was looking through it and it was from Thanksgiving, and it was about ‑‑ I am reading it, and it's like, I'm thankful for my family and churches and my sponsors and my go‑karts and Jeff Gordon. I'm like, what is this. So I was already thanking my sponsors and Jeff Gordon in kindergarten so, that I that was kind of funny.
Q. In the weeks after the Daytona 500 Carl Edwards told us a couple times that I think the night of the race he came to seek you out to ask you what he could have done differently to try to beat you; is that correct?
TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, I was actually eating dinner and he called me. I was like, man, Carl Edwards is calling me. This is cool, because at that point I had talked to him a couple times. I go outside and answer the phone and he's like, man, congratulations. What do you think I could have done different? I've been thinking about it this whole time. Should I have went high, should I have went low? I keep beating myself up. Do you think I made the right move? I'm like, I don't know, man. I've got no idea. I didn't see it from your perspective. But that was really cool when he did that.
Q. Obviously did you think that was a little strange, here you're making your second start or something and the guy who's been racing for a while is asking you how he could have done a better job to beat you. Did it take you by surprise a little bit or is that the kind of‑‑ he's been kind of known for trying to find out what I can do better. Do you have that kind of outlook, too?
TREVOR BAYNE: Well, now that I know Carl it would have been less surprising because every time you talk to him he's looking for ways to improve himself, whether it's how he eats, whether it's how he works out or whether it's what he does on the track or his communication or being a better person or whatever it is. There's probably nobody else in our garage that thinks as much or works as hard as Carl does, and that's why he's so good. That's why he was battling for a championship last year.
And it did catch me off guard at that time because I didn't know that much about Carl and for him to call me and just be wondering that much, but that just goes to what kind of person he is. He wants to figure out every little thing that he can do better, and that's what we should all probably do.
Q. For Trevor and Jamie, for the last 20 years NASCAR has backed away from the 200‑mile‑per‑hour mark. How it seems like they're embracing it for the 500. Can you just talk about going 200 miles an hour? Is it different? Does the car feel different? Are you aware of that, that sort of thing?
JAMIE McMURRAY: For me it doesn't really feel any different. You can't tell a big difference from 190 to 205. You do at a place like Texas or Atlanta, but here not so much because you have so much grip, the cars drive so well, you don't feel the big speed difference. And I don't know why they're okay with going a little faster now. My guess would be that they have educated on how fast the cars can go and if they get out of control how stable they will be.
Yeah, I was always with you that I thought 200 miles per hour was the don't‑go‑past zone, but they seem to be comfortable with that, and the car, it doesn't feel a lot different.
TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, I mean, I didn't think they'd ever want to go that fast just because if they got backwards what could happen or anything. But they seem pretty confident that they've come a long way on keeping the cars on the ground. Obviously the roof flats and all the cowls and everything else that are working to our advantage when we go faster and faster. We were over there earlier, and Jeff Gordon was saying he wanted to go slower and Brad Keselowski was saying he wanted to go faster, so nobody really knows what's better, but everybody has their opinions. I like faster just because it feels cooler in the race car.
But like Jamie said, you don't really know, you just look up at your little digital gauge when we have our pie systems on and see that it says 208 and you get pumped about that. But I think if you take that away, then we'll never know the difference.
Q. Trevor, one more thing about Tebow. I understand you met at the Espys. Do you have any sort of relationship with him, and if you do, have you guys talked about your faith?
TREVOR BAYNE: I actually talked to him while I was doing‑‑ I think I was in the studio to do the Ellen show was the first time we talked, and somebody got him on the phone and we were talking, and he gave me a lot of great advice because he's been through things that I had not yet got to, and now his experience and his advice really helped out. Tebow is a great guy, and I talked to him again at the Espys and unfortunately it was kind of a fly‑in, fly‑out for me, but we were supposed to hang out that night, and he's just a really incredible person.
He is everything that says he is, and I think that's what's so awesome because we see so much in our world that's just people talking up a big game and they talk all this stuff, but they're not really what they say they are. And I think he really is. We haven't talked in a little while. I texted him a little while back about just keep digging. It was before he was starting as quarterback, but it's definitely somebody I look up to and I'd like to wear my faith on my sleeve a little bit more like he does.
Godwin Kelly back here actually wrote a book. Somebody left it up here, but he did a great job, and it's my new book out called "Driven By Faith," which is for 9 to 12 year olds really. It's got a lot of information about NASCAR, the flag, just kind of general information that kids wouldn't really know yet and it's got my story about my faith, so if anybody wants to know more, they can check that out.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you, and best of luck in 2012.
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