NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: AMP Energy 500
Topics: AMP Energy 500
November 1, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're joined in the media center by today's race winner, Jamie McMurray, his crew chief, Donnie Wingo, and team owner, Jack Roush. Jamie, congratulations. This is your third win in 255 NASCAR starts. Your win today also qualifies you for the 2010 Sprint All-Star Showdown. Why don't you talk about the race today and your thoughts going to Texas.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I started out the race, I talked to Donnie last night and a little this morning just about riding around. We wrecked on like lap 7 here in the spring race. We talked about riding around at that point at the back just to log laps. And I made the comment to him, I was like I didn't come here to ride around the back. I want to get up there and race with those guys. Then we wrecked on lap 7, and we had to ride around wounded. Makes you think that it probably wasn't the best plan.
So we rode around in the back with the 48 and the 14, and some of those other guys until just a little bit after lap 100. Then when I initially tried to move you up through the field they were three wide, ten rows deep, and it just seemed like our row would advance, and then the next lap that row would move to the back, and nobody was able to make any ground.
I even made the comment to the spotter and Donnie, I said, it's just going to be luck whoever can get in the right row and make the moves. Fortunately, for me I shot around a couple of rows. Our car was really fast, and I was able to get to the front.
Luckily Matt Kenseth was right behind me and, you know, Matt's my teammate, and he's also a really good friend of mine. I had a lot of faith that he would not hang me out at least until one or two to go. And he helped out a lot by being able to when it was two or three wide to get behind me. He had numerous times he could have shot me whether on the inside or outside and he let the record reflected to stay with me, and it made it a lot easier.
THE MODERATOR: Why don't you tell us about your day, Donnie, from atop the pit box?
DONNIE WINGO: Yeah, we were just going to ride around there to begin it and try to log laps. Hopefully at the end of the race where we made our last stop we could do the least amount we could do to get track position, And taking two tires there.
We did have to wait a little bit on fuel just to make sure we got it fuel, because it was really, really close at the end. And we put ourself in position there at the end, and that's what we needed to do. The guys did a good job getting us out of the pits, and he did a good job hanging in there and staying up front.
JACK ROUSH: I'm proud to be here with Jamie again and with Donnie for the first time. Of course it's been a while since we gave Ford another win. And Matt Kenseth that was running the new FR9 Ford engine, and that was good to see it finish. It was in the UPS car with David Ragan as well.
Anyway, Ford Motor Company has a lot at stake in what we're doing, and we certainly owed them more success than we've been able to give them this year. But we were glad to get that straightened out.
We don't have as many races left as I'd like to go out the back door with Jamie, but I'm not going to be able to. I guess we're going to have to part our ways at the end of the year here based on going from five teams to four. But that's a great sadness, but I hope that we can win another race with Jamie, and certainly am happy for this one.
The guys did a nice job. The car had speed in it, and they didn't make a mistake all day. I thought that I was going to find or we were going to find another way to lose one of these races. I thought in the closing laps there that we were going to be just -- that cars were going to run out of gas and delay the restart of the race until it was our turn, and then we'd be out of gas too. That was my horror. In fact, I had to turn away and get off the pit box. I couldn't stand it. I left. I couldn't stand it (laughing).
Q. Your thoughts as Jack just talked about, you're leaving this team. You're winning a race late in the season for them. You're also trying to lock down what you're doing for next season. Your thoughts on winning this race and what that does to your whole picture?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, certainly being able to win is not going to hurt my chances at getting another ride. You know, I said this kind of jokingly on TV, but my first year, so Jack was a little bit mean to me, I guess, would be the easy way to put that. His motivating skills were -- he just wasn't pushing the right button.
He's told me numerous times that, you know, everyone is motivated differently. And Jack's become a really good friend of mine in the last year. He's learned to push the right button, I guess, when he comes up to my car before the race and what to say to me.
You know, I'll miss not getting to drive one of these cars. Certainly Jack's team can put just incredible equipment on the track, and this year hasn't been as good as what it's been in the past. But whether it's the engine shop or the engineering department or the chassis shop, he has an incredible race team. And my years here have been, you know, they've been good.
Certainly the performance hasn't been what I think either one of us expected coming in and almost making the Chase my first few years in Cup. Coming over here I thought it would be kind of a sure bet, and it just hasn't been as good as what it needed to be.
But certainly I'll miss being a part of this organization. But you never know, you know, you might end up driving for Jack one day again. So I'm not going to make him mad in this little meeting we're having here.
Q. Do you expect your phone to be ringing a little bit more now?
JAMIE McMURRAY: No, I don't think so. There's not a lot of rides available right now. I think that everybody knows that what rides there are out there. You know, certainly if a sponsor were to call me, that would make it a lot easier with the amount of teams that are shutting down. There are not a lot of options out there, so I think everyone knows the cars that are available right now.
For me, I just hope that we can get it, you know, signed and announce it whenever they want to so that it will make it a little bit easier to sleep at night.
Q. I've seen a lot of strange races at this track, this is a weird track anyway. But that was a really strange race. But two hours you're single file out there and laughing about iPods and needing No Doz, and we were listening to the whole thing trying to figure out what's going on here. Then everybody goes crazy and cars are flying through the air. What's it like for you sitting on top of the roof trying to figure out what's the game plan here?
JACK ROUSH: I was up there to try to console Donnie and finally the cars started running out of gas one after another. Then we had the 2 called off with one to go twice, and I couldn't stand it. I was going to throw up someplace. So I had to go find myself some privacy (laughing).
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, this is a different type of racing than what we do. It's even different than Daytona because handling is irrelevant here. It's all about getting in the right groove and having a really good engine.
You know, it's really weird how you watch the truck race and everybody rides around on the bottom. And in our race everybody rides around up against the wall.
But it seems that these cars the way they suck up, you need to be on the right rear of the guy in order to make the pass. It's really hard to make the pass on the inside. So ideally what would make this the best probably for the drivers is to have it be a 75-lap race because everybody would race like crazy.
It seemed like everyone used their head today. And they rode around for, like we did, 400 laps and tried to be calm. And it's just typical.
It's hard even when they're policing the bump drafting and you're ten rows back and they start stacking up, you can't tell what's going on. Everyone's fanning out trying to figure out where they're stacking up at, but it's really hard to see that when you're ten rows back. You have to have your spotter be like they're stacking up, so you can start to slow down.
I had quite a few occasions today where I'm trying to get slowed down, and the guy behind me -- actually I had someone push me through Kurt Busch. I'm lucky we didn't have a huge wreck right there. It's hard when they get three-wide like that.
Q. This has been an odd season for Roush Fenway Racing. You guys historically aren't known as dominating at plate tracks, yet you won the Daytona 500, you won here. You've had some struggles during the season, a long period. Can you characterize how your season's been in general? And how much is this a boost at the end of the season that gives you something to build on?
JACK ROUSH: It's going to give us a great boost. We hope to win more races before the season's over. Texas has been very good to us and Homestead has been very, very good to us over the years. Phoenix has been hot and cold. But we hope to win two out of the next three races and let somebody else have one of them.
But this has not been the year we hoped for. Last year Carl won the most races in the year, and we won, I think, a number of races in the Chase. I think we won six races in the Chase total. We've had to average that out this year. We've had to give some of it back.
Our people have been in place that were there to support us last year. We had just a couple of new folks and didn't lose anybody that was in a key spot. So it was just our turn to have a lack luster year. I guess I take responsibility for that. I wasn't visionary enough to give the direction and the guidance, and the inspiration that I needed to, so we've fallen into little bit of a rut. But we'll climb back out of it next year.
Jamie certainly had a car that it was not a fluke that he won the race today. He had speed all day. And he worked with Matt, and worked with other people. He executed well and wisely on the racetrack with regard to staying out of trouble and not getting wrecked. So he deserved to win the race, and we've deserved to win some other races this year that we've missed.
Maybe some of the ones we won last year we didn't deserve. You have to average that out. But I'm very optimistic about next year. I think the economy's going to get better. And NASCAR is still one of the real success stories in our economy based on how it's maintained the spectator and the fan enthusiasm that it has, and how brand loyal they are.
So I'm excited about NASCAR. I'm excited about the race team. I wish that I still had my five teams that I didn't have to go down to four and we had a spot for Jamie, but it is what it is. We go forward.
Q. Jimmie Johnson was in here earlier and said that maybe the only way to solve the problems here at Daytona is to knock down the banking of the track. But obviously you've got a mechanical background. What do you think can be done with these cars? Is I know you've been asked this a lot. But what can be done to keep the drivers and fans safe and prevent them from flipping and becoming airborne here and at Daytona.
JACK ROUSH: I certainly don't want to pick a fight with Mike Helton or John Darby or anybody else in the organization. But I'm, you know, the warning they gave today was pretty much the same warning that I've heard every time we come here to Talladega. It's more Talladega than it is at Daytona because Daytona's more of a handling track, and this is just a wide open track here.
But until they penalize somebody for bump drafting and saying, Okay, this is the line. Here it is, you cannot do this, but you can go up to this point and you can't go further. It's very confusing for me, and I'm sure it's confusing for the drivers. Nobody knows what's going to be the consequence if you push around the racetrack.
There were people that pushed around the racetrack today in the corners as well as in the straightaways. For some people on some occasions it was okay. I'm not sure it would have been okay for everybody on all occasions, and that sure leaves -- if you think it's okay some of the time, you're inclined to push some of the time, and there in is where the trouble starts.
Q. Considering the way things transpired today, we had those long periods of single file racing and the bunching up in the end and a couple of times in the race. How do you determine in a situation like that how are you going to advise Jamie about pushing forward or pushing toward the front when you really can't be certain how things are going to workout the way the racing changed all day?
DONNIE WINGO: I think it's one of those deals where we planned out toward the end of the race where we made sure we could do the least amount we could do on pit road to get the track position.
We took four tires next to last stop. Then we took two there at the end just to make sure we didn't have any mistakes on pit road. They did a great job. Just to make sure we could get the track position, get it full of fuel for the run there at the end. We were still a little close on fuel. We were sweating it a little bit. But to try to do the least bit we could there at the end of the race to get the track position, and it worked out.
Q. Given your expertise with the development of the roof flaps, did it surprise you to see Ryan Newman's car do the back flip even though the roof flaps deployed? Was that a function of the speeds or it hitting the roof of Harvick's car? Did the flaps work, in other words, or why didn't they work?
JACK ROUSH: The roof flaps are organized that when the car stays on the ground and turns counter clockwise, as it starts to turn it picks up. The roof flaps deploy, and the air foil that's formed as the wind sees the side of the car like an airplane wing as it upsets that air foil and makes some turbulence on the roof.
I didn't see how Ryan Newman's wreck started. I'm sure that he had impact with other cars that wind up launching him. But the impact or the effect of the roof flap is to stop it from becoming an air foil up to 170, 180 Miles an hour before it starts to generate lift.
But if it gets a force from another car, which was the case for Carl Edwards in the wreck that we had in the spring here. I'm sure that Ryan Newman had a force like that. You get an external force on the car, there is not much weight on the car. It's near negative. It's near zero at its best even with the roof flaps deployed and you can easily go airborne.
Like I said, I haven't analyzed that wreck to see how it developed. But there's not been an incident where roof flaps have not functioned as we were intended to where the car was not hit and didn't have the impact of another car affecting the attitude.
Q. After the race Jamie thanked the fans who stuck by him. I believe your last one was with Juan Pablo Montoya. So any comments on Jack's bringing you over to work with Jamie who you worked with before?
JACK ROUSH: You know, it was just a privilege for me to come work with this organization. A great group of people. And to be able to work with Jamie again, we were kind of close before. Really, really close a lot of times and winning races and making the Chase.
Just this year we got started off pretty good, then kind of had a lull through the middle of the year that really put us behind. I don't know what it is about it. But it seems like at the end of the year things started to go pretty good for everybody, because I think last year they went third, third, third for the last three races. And to win here, hopefully we can win some more here before the year's over.
Q. This probably has been asked four times.
JAMIE McMURRAY: It has.
Q. Your future?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, it has.
Q. Okay, never mind (laughing).
JAMIE McMURRAY: I mean, it has.
Q. You're not going to tell us?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Where were you at? I answered it twice in here (smiling).
Q. Can you talk about the end part of the race holding the guys off? We've seen in past races here where a lot of times the leader that maybe not is the place you want to be. Obviously the caution at the end helped, but how challenging was it holding them off? And with the rule change of not being able to bump draft in the corners, did that help or in a way hinder you? Make it tougher for you to defend the position?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, whenever I got out front and Matt was behind me and we were riding single file, then it got two wide, then it got three wide. You know, I was really fortunate that it was Matt behind me. Because when you're the leader and they get two or three-wide, there is always going to be a row that's faster. It might carry you into turn one, but by the time you get into turn three, that won't be the fastest row, there will be another one.
I just stuck with whatever lane Matt was in. And Matt's car was fast enough to get back to me before someone would pull up in front of me. The 88 did pull up in front of me at one point, and I got a huge run. I got by him, and I got right back up in front of Matt.
So really, Kenseth put me where I was at the end and kept helping me out, kept helping me out. It takes a little bit of luck to be in that position. Certainly you can think all you want which lane you need to be in, but you've got to have someone behind you that's willing to help. When it's your teammate and a friend, it makes a big difference.
Q. I know you'll have to get back and look at the engine and really go into it deeply. But are you relieved that you got 500 Miles out of the two motors?
JACK ROUSH: I was very confident of the engines themselves for all the moving parts in the engine. There was a little bit of a question about the valve train and the valve spring. But all the basic engineering that's gone into that engine has been the best I've ever seen. So I was confident of that.
I was most nervous about that mechanically driven fuel pump if you'll recall. Virtually all the teams have gone to engines with these rear mounted, fuel cell mounted cable driven fuel pumps have had trouble. And I was just scared to death that we'd break a chain or break a cable or have trouble with that fuel pump.
But the fuel pump worked good. Engine did what it might. We've got to work on getting it as lean as we have the existing engine. We weren't as lean. We didn't quite get the fuel mileage out of the 17 and out of the 6 that we did, but that's not because of anything inherent in the engine. That was just my lack of confidence of what I was seeing to do what I thought I might do. And I'll be more confident and be more aggressive with that when we go to Daytona.
Q. Did you ever hear NASCAR officials come over the radio and make any warnings to any of your drivers about aggressive driving? And Jamie were you pump draft or pushed draft on the corners by anyone on the track throughout the course of the race?
JACK ROUSH: I didn't hear -- I heard my spotters on the teams talk about other cars other than our cars that were bump drafting in the corners. It seemed like at one point the bump drafting in the corners light was on and it was okay. But that was just based on hearsay. I didn't see that myself. It's what I heard from the spotters.
I'll have a chance to talk to them this week and understand if they were exaggerating or if it was a real phenomenon that started to occur.
But there was no warning given to any of my guys that I'm aware of by NASCAR. And I monitor NASCAR along with other people. I didn't hear them more than anybody else. But they may have. I may not have been on the right channel at the right time.
JAMIE McMURRAY: I did get pushed around the corners a couple of times. I don't remember who it was. But really Matt Kenseth was the one that probably followed the rules the best of anyone I was around. He would push you down the straightaway and get off of you every time you got to the corner.
So Matt definitely listened in the drivers' meeting. I don't know that everyone else did. But really if they're not going to let you lock together and push for an entire lap, it doesn't do you a lot of good to push through one corner. Because if you get two cars too far out in front, they go so slow that when the pack catches them, you can't get any help.
So when guys would push me like that, I would drag the brakes so they didn't get too far out in front and get too big of a run on me.
Q. Based on the race today and what you heard in the driver's meeting and what you saw on the racetrack today, if they came back and said okay, we're going to run this race next April the same way we're running it right now, would you understand what they were trying to do? Do you think all the drivers would understand and be able to race it? Or are there still going to be big question mark as that maybe I can push them a little harder this time? Is?
JAMIE McMURRAY: When I listened to Mike Helton describe what they wanted, you could tell it's going to be very hard to police 43 people. I assume that if they get a TV camera on you, and NASCAR was watching that TV camera and they saw you push around the racetrack, it would be easy to say that's not right. But I think it's very hard when guys are two or three wide to be able to look at everybody.
I thought that what they said was fine. I don't think that you should be pushing around the corners on lap 20. And we saw it here in the spring and even last fall. You'd see guys get hooked up and they would drive a half a mile ahead of the field. You know, you can do it.
It's pretty exciting when you get the guy behind you shoving through the corner. It's a little bit Harry. You don't need to be doing that on lap 20 or lap 50 or 100. I think it's a little different when you're coming to the checkered flag.
When you're the guy in front, I think it's a little misled. The guy in front doesn't set that up. He doesn't say I'm going to drag the brake and get that guy to me. It doesn't work like that. The guy behind has to have a big enough run at you to break that plain to get your bumper.
It's very easy to get a big runs at guys today and you get a foot from him and your car would just stop. Then you'd have a big run and think I'm going to hit him pretty hard. So it's tricky to get locked up like that.
So it's not like two guys working together could be like we're going to do this on the last lap. It's a little bit of luck to get those cars locked together.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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