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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Brickyard 400

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Brickyard 400

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Brickyard 400

Chip Ganassi
Kevin Manion
Jamie McMurray
Felix Sabates
July 25, 2010


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

THE MODERATOR: We'll get rolling here. We're now joined by today's winner of the Brickyard 400, Jamie McMurray. Currently Jamie is 16th in points, 151 out of 12th. Jamie is now the third driver to win both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year. Other drivers who have done it are Dale Jarrett in '96 and Jimmie Johnson in '06.
Jamie, tell us about your day.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, first off, the 42 car had a great tire test here. It gave us a really good starting point. Qualifying went well. I think everybody saw last year that track position is key to running well here. So after qualifying, we felt like if we could keep our track position, we would be okay.
Honestly, our times were pretty good in practice, but I didn't feel like our car handled that well. Bono just kept preaching to me that, There's not going to be a tremendous amount of passing. We have enough speed to maintain, keep our track position all day.
We had a third- or fourth-place car, felt like. Didn't feel like we had a dominant car. But we had a really smart race. We didn't make any mistakes.
I think Bono did a really good job with taking two tires. Don't know if you know, but it was a really big risk for us because I thought I had a flat left front. I'm glad that we were pitted towards the end of pit road because it gave us time to work it out. Bono was, If you think you have a flat, we need to do four. But I was like, I don't know. I do know that four tires probably will not give us the track position we need when it comes down to the end.
He made a good decision to stick with two tires. When I got out in front, I honestly didn't think anybody would catch me. The 29 hadn't been as good as us all day. I thought I'd be able to drive away from him. I got really tight. Kevin got up underneath me. I kind of let him go because I was going to try to cross over going into one. As soon as I let off the gas, the caution came out. I was pretty frustrated. Give it all I have on this last restart to give up what I loss. We finished second two or three times, come so close to winning, you don't want to give that up.
When Kevin gave me the outside, I thought that was my only chance. On the restart we both spun the tires really, really bad. But when I got down to turn one, my car had a lot more grip than it did the run before. I don't know if the air pressure built up. I worked my tires in really, really hard under the yellow to get the pressure built up. Man, I just had way more grip that last run than I did the run before that.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by today's winning crew chief, Kevin 'Bono' Manion. Talk about your race from top the box.
KEVIN MANION: Well, it was a long day and it was a long 11 laps there at the end. You know, track position, a couple weeks ago at Chicago, we sat on the pole, just maintain track position, had an opportunity to win. After Happy Hour yesterday, we made a 12-lap run, which takes about 15 minutes here, 20 minutes, time in and out of the garage. We were looking at all the laps after the race, after practice rather, in the lounge. Jamie says, Can we win? I said, Absolutely. We had enough speed to where if you put us in the right position, there was no one going to pass you because passing and track position is at a premium. Passing is so difficult. Good cars can pass, as we saw last year with the 20 and the 48.
There at the end, it was on schedule to go green the whole way and you just knew there was going to be a caution. It opened that door, opened that opportunity to take two or four. That was probably the right call with two today. I actually said in a team meeting, Four tires will win this race, even though we thought we were going to take two in our strategy to get out front. All in all, great day. Real happy to be here.
THE MODERATOR: And also joined by team owner, Felix Sabates. Another big day in Indy. Your thoughts on the day.
FELIX SABATES: Somebody say 11 laps? I thought it was a hundred laps. It felt like it anyway (laughter).
No, Bono made a great call. I was listening to Jamie. He thought he had a flat tire. I think it was one of those things that Jamie was lucky we were at the end of pit road, able to figure out we didn't have a flat tire, making the two-tire call. Biffle was the first car on four tires. He got behind the 29 car and couldn't pass him. In this place here, if you don't get up front, you're screwed. That was a great call you made, so congratulations.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions. One interesting note, Jamie. You are now the top-trending topic on Twitter, so congratulations for that.

Q. Jamie, Kevin Harvick was in here a while ago and said something about what you have accomplished two-thirds of with Chip, the Daytona 500, this race and the Indy 500 all in one year. He said pretty simply, This will probably never happen again. What is your response to that?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, it most likely won't. I think it's very hard to have -- I mean, Chip is just having such a year between the NASCAR side and the IndyCar side. I'll be honest. I thing I think of the most is they almost won the 24 Hours of Daytona. I think they finished second.
It's so hard to get both organizations going at the same time. This race, the Daytona 500, and the Indy 500 are races of strategy. You see guys dominate those races and not win. So it's just remarkable what he's been able to put together and the people he's been able to hire.
I feel very honored to get to be a part of that accomplishment.

Q. You were not the guy that all the fanfare was surrounding coming into this weekend. Certainly Chip. Juan was the guy. You're so humble, it never seemed to bother you. You went out and did the job. Can you talk about the emotions. At Daytona, you said, This is like a dream come true. Now you're winning the second biggest race of the year. What was going through your mind at the end of all of that?
JAMIE McMURRAY: To start with, I saw Christy walk in. I reminded me something. I didn't sleep the night before qualifying, neither did Bono, because we thought it was going to be a big deal to get on the pole at the Brickyard 400. I talked to him. I didn't sleep last night, ran 200 qualifying laps trying to get a rhythm down. He said, I didn't sleep either, looking at notes till at 11:30 at night. We qualified fourth. I was really torn up over that. It wasn't because Juan had the pole. I thought we had a legitimate shot at it.
Went back to the motorhome, and talking to Christy, I'm really torn up I am not going to be on the pole here. Christy doesn't ever give her opinion on anything to do with racing. And she's like, Heck with the pole, win the race. That's the first thing I thought of after I won. She had a good point. I'm pretty happy right now.
It's just remarkable to get to be here. I mean, I'm a big believer in fate. I really believe that this was Juan's weekend. He had a really good tire test here. He ran so well last year, had a chance to win the race. I just think that things normally work themselves out.
I'm looking with 15 or 20 laps to go and Juan is leading. Not that I was content, but, If this is the way it's supposed to be, then that's just the way it is. Then I was like, I'm going to be really happy for Chip and Juan and everybody at our team because this is really big. It's just a major accomplishment what we've all been able to put together.
That team, the 42 team, has had some really good cars. They just have had some bad luck and got put in bad position. So, I don't know, it was unfortunate for them.
THE MODERATOR: Let me also welcome team owner, Chip Ganassi. He becomes the first owner to win the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Indy 500 in the same year. Congratulations. Your thoughts on how things unfolded today.
CHIP GANASSI: Let's see. First of all, thanks to everybody. When you come down to the end there, I think there was about 10 laps to go on that last yellow. I'll tell you, what Jamie was talking about, this is such a team sport. Let me tell you how that other team helped us win today. There was 10 laps to go. For all yesterday and today, all the crew chiefs talk about is, What do you do with 10 to go? Four tires? They can point to the races where four tires have won, you can point to the races where two tires have won. We were in the enviable position of running 1-2. A lot of times when you're running like that, you can do a split strategy so you have both sort of angles covered.
I was behind the pit stand. Johnny Morris brought up to me, Maybe we ought to think about two. The 42 was going for four. I looked at Bono. I said, Do you think we should do the split strategy here? He said, Yeah, let's go for two. I said, Okay.
That was the call. The only reason we could do that is because we knew the 42 was going for four. As a team, we had sort of both strategies covered there, I guess. That's the great thing about having a teammate.

Q. Chip and Felix, you had to reorganize the team a couple years back, brought Jamie back. Talk about the struggles from where you were a couple years ago to where you are today.
CHIP GANASSI: I mean, you know, everybody looks at the year with Franchitti there when we didn't find sponsorship for him. We were looking for sponsorship at the beginning of the financial crisis. I'm sure there's not a person out there that wasn't affected by the financial crisis. And we were, too. That just happened to be the year we were looking for a sponsor for Dario. We didn't get it done.
So we had to pull our wings in a bit and make some changes, take it a little bit on the chin, which we did. But we always knew we'd be racing. I think a lot of people in the media had us written off that we were bye-bye. Everybody was ready to kiss us off. We knew that wasn't the case. But, yeah...

Q. Jamie, this time last year you had no idea where you were going to be driving this year. Chip, someone had written your team was in disarray.
CHIP GANASSI: Where is Newton? He wrote that (laughter).

Q. You had returned from about a six-week absence. All of you up there were facing difficult questions about what the future held. That being said, here you are today. Is it almost surreal what a difference a year makes? You have one winning team here and one heartbroken team in the garage. What do you say to Juan and Brian?
CHIP GANASSI: Which one do you want first?

Q. Any order you want.
CHIP GANASSI: What do I say to Juan and Brian? They should have taken two.
JAMIE McMURRAY: That will be the front page.
CHIP GANASSI: I don't know, you know.

Q. Is that off the record?
FELIX SABATES: I hope so.
CHIP GANASSI: Look, I told you. It takes a team to win in this sport. Bono will tell you that he and Brian Pattie are like brothers. Jamie will tell you he and Juan, I wouldn't call them brothers, but they're open book, and they help each other all weekend.
This is a win for the team. Certainly we sit here, I don't want to take anything away from Jamie and Bono, but the team wins and the team loses. Today was certainly a mixed emotions day in that respect. Without the 42 team, the 1 car wouldn't have won, I don't think, and vice versa. That's what happens.
Is it surreal? Yes. From where we were a while back, people had Jamie written off, people had us written off. But I think what I said once before, a semester at sea for Jamie. He couldn't have come back a better person. We had grown as a team and he had grown as a driver. We picked up where we left off, I think. And I'm really happy about that.
What else were you asking?

Q. Jamie, as well.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I think it's very similar to what Chip said. For me, and I just said this on TV, I think it's a lesson for all the media, that instead of writing the story that this guy should be fired, the story should be this guy needs to find a new situation. I'm going to use Elliott Sadler. I go back and I watch all these races while I run or work out. I'll watch Pocono this week. Since we had two weeks off, I watched last year's race and I YouTubed a race, found the race from 2005. Elliott qualified on the pole, led like the first 40 laps.
I think it's just a situation where you got to get the guys in the right position with the right crew chief and the right team and the right owner. I'll tell you something that Chip said to me right before I got in the car. He said, Let's go out and do this thing. I said, I'll give you everything I got. He said, I know, that's why I hired you. I believe in you. You go out and do your best, that will be enough.
I think every driver is different, but for me that's what drives me, is having somebody behind you. I think it's been really good for both Chip and I to experience all of this together because we were together when things weren't great and we kind of built this together along with the 1 team to where it is. I think it's made me, I won't speak for Chip, but it's made me really appreciate Bass Pro Shops, McDonald's, everyone that is a part of our race team. When you're a part of an organization that just has sponsors knocking the doors down, I don't think that the drivers appreciate that as much as they should. For me to go through what I went through, it makes me really, really appreciate what we have with Bass Pro Shops.
Johnny Morris was here today in Victory Lane. We go and sign autographs at Bass Pro Shops. Johnny will be the one that will call. Do you mind going and signing autographs? When you have relationships like that with your sponsors, it makes you want to go out and help them. Really fortunate to be where we are.

Q. Kevin, Juan seemed to run on clean air for most of the race. After he pitted for four, he found himself in dirty air. How much do you think that played in him not being able to recover?
KEVIN MANION: I think that was everything. We knew on that last stint there that people were gonna take two. It's a fact. It's written in stone that, you know, maybe fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth, some of them guys are going to take two.
If you are a leader, have a really good-balanced car, it's hard not to take four tires. Greg Biffle and Juan were running 1-2, they both took four. That was their opportunity they thought to win the race. Our opportunity to win this race was to take two. When Glove asked me in the team meeting this morning, What's your plan today? Whatever it takes to win the race. That was our plan. Our car ran best in clean air. Juan and the 16, of two cars that I know that took four, that were running 1-2, 1-2-3, traffic definitely played a major part in Juan or Biffle not winning.

Q. Jamie, I don't know what it is about you in the big races. Daytona 500, Darlington, the 600, Indy. Do you have any idea why it seems to step up in those? Bono, developing chemistry with a new driver seems to be a science that takes a while to develop most of the time. We've seen multiple examples this year where it doesn't work. What do you attribute your success to with Jamie this year?
KEVIN MANION: I would have to say similar likes, similar age, Jamie being around, being available. Starting last year around Homestead or a week before Phoenix, you know, we really kind of thought we were gonna get something started and continue. From that day forward, the relationship grew. We knew we had to put it in fast forward. We didn't have time. So it was testing over the winter. Simply going to lunch two or three times a week. I know Jamie is a germ-freak now. So am I. He's made me a germ-freak - almost (laughter).
That's it. It's just really simple. We had to speed the process up. That's through testing and, like I said, a couple weeks ago we had a day off, he came and picked me up on a tracker boat. I took him tubing. I was doing the driving.
It's just good friendship, good chemistry, but also business. I'm business. I'm at work every day. It's just a good team. Chip, Felix, Teresa, have assembled a good team.
JAMIE McMURRAY: I think it's coincidence a little bit that we've run well at all those big races. After sitting on the pole at Darlington and running second, then going to Chicago with the same car, sitting on the pole, finishing fifth, we had a car that they had given all the updates to, and we were going to bring here. I asked Bono, Any chance we could bring the same car we ran at Darlington and Chicago? He's like, Absolutely. We raced Chicago Saturday. I went to the shop on Monday, the car was stripped down, they were taking it in to repair it.
A lot of it has to do we brought our best stuff and the guys worked hard to get the car ready to come here. Felix said it's because they pay more money. That might have something to do with it.

Q. During qualifying, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both pegged your team as well as Juan's team as the main contenders for this race. What does that respect mean to you?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I think that's awesome. It seems like every year you have an organization that is a little bit above the rest. It seems like it's been Roush, it's been Hendricks. I think our organization, I really don't think there's any better cars out there. The science that's behind it, it's not just trial and error. I mean, the engineers do a really good job at using the tools that they have, and those tools function when we get to the track. You can have computer programs that tell you a lot, but if it doesn't function when you get to the track, it doesn't matter.
They just build really fast, lightweight cars. The setups and stuff that go in them, they just work really well. So I think that means a lot to me that that organization who you would consider one of the best thinks that we're a threat.

Q. Chip, Kevin Harvick said something very simple a while ago about what your teams have accomplished this year. He said this will probably never happen again. Your reaction, please?
CHIP GANASSI: I want to thank Richard for giving me the 29 engine this weekend. He gave me the 29 and the 31 engines. I tell him that every week, you know (smiling).
First of all, those guys, they give us great engines, ECR. Kevin and I are old buddies. For him to say that, that's a pretty big statement. He's a great guy and I've always liked him as a friend. I respect him as a driver. I hope I'll learn to respect him as a historian and maybe hope he's right (laughter).

Q. Chip and Jamie, getting back to the Juan situation. This is the second consecutive year he's dominated this race and did not win. You know him pretty well. What effect will this have on him?
CHIP GANASSI: He's probably over it already, I'm sure. I mean, I know he's mad. I'm sure he's mad, but he's over it. It's racing. This is what he does for a living.

Q. Jamie, is there any part of you that has sympathy for what he went through here today and last year?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Absolutely. For anybody that can lead that many laps of a race, they certainly had the best car. It's been their year, though. I would guess that they're not shocked by what's happened today because it seems like they've had a lot of bad luck. I don't know what happened to him. Honestly, I didn't even know he was involved in a wreck until under that caution I saw him walking out of his car. I didn't want to ask what had happened because I was more concerned with what I was doing at the time.
Yeah, I mean, that's hard on anybody to lead that many laps. This is a special place to Juan from winning the Indy 500, being the guy that can be the only guy that's won both those races. So, yeah, that's really tough.

Q. Chip, if you were to speak to a group such as the Kelly School of Business, what would you tell them are the two or three things to building a business for the kind of success you've had?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't know. Hard work, passion and sacrifice. That's what I'd tell 'em. Does that answer it?

Q. It's not going to fill up much column space (laughter).
CHIP GANASSI: You got to work hard at what you want to do. You got to work hard at it. It's the only way I've figured out how to do it: work hard at it. You got to turn the other ear to a lot of things and turn your head to a lot of things and keep focused on what you're trying to do. Stay on your plan. I can't tell you how many times, I mean, we've been staying on our plan for a long time, how we go racing week in and week out. We've been staying on plan for a long time. So you got to sacrifice. You can't listen to other people. You got to make sacrifices. You have to pick and choose sometimes, make a call, A or B, X or Y, make a left or right. Those are tough calls you have to make. But you have to plan your work and work your plan and have some passion about what you're doing. You have to love what you're doing. I love what I'm doing.
Like I said, I'm privileged to be in this for a living and honored to represent the people we represent and the companies we represent. I'm a lucky guy.

Q. I'm assuming you have not spoken to Juan at this point?
CHIP GANASSI: I haven't spoken to him.

Q. Jamie, you were talking about how appreciative you are, how great it is to be back with Chip. Do you ever wonder what if you never left what might have happened?
JAMIE McMURRAY: We're not dating. I mean, we're not (smiling).
I know where you're going with that. I think that me leaving was good for me. You know what I'm saying? I know by me leaving it's made me appreciate the situation I'm in, the relationships I have with Chip, Felix and Teresa. Even though he just informed me that's not the same car we ran at Darlington and Chicago, I would say, I'm sorry, I forgot to call you (smiling).
CHIP GANASSI: That's what I like about Jamie, he's got his finger on the pulse of everything going on.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Honestly, I don't think it would be the same if I had not left. Our friendship is much more than it ever was before. For me, it's because I've matured so much from when I was here before and learned a lot.

Q. Felix, when this whole fiasco started with Chip Ganassi being an IndyCar owner coming into NASCAR, I seriously challenged whether he was going to go through with it. You teamed up with him and stuck with him in one of the longest contracts you've had. What made it work for you?
FELIX SABATES: He wasn't a fiasco. He saved my butt.
Chip and I have been friends for a long time. When I got a call from mutual friends that he wanted to come to NASCAR, it was music to my ears. Chip is the most dedicated person in racing I ever met. If you cut his veins, motor oil would come out of his veins. We have come together for 11 years, and we had one argument, and that was who was going to buy dinner here in Indianapolis.
If I don't talk to him at least once a day, there's something wrong with him or vice versa. So we have the relationship that it breeds winning because everybody in the race shop see that him and I speak from the same side. So it's been a great ride.
The guy that got to feel like an idiot tonight has to be Jack Roush. He's the one that let him go.
CHIP GANASSI: Inches from a clean getaway (laughter).

Q. Jamie, eighth race here in Indianapolis. You were third in '03. Had your best start today. Qualifying, racing here in Indianapolis, fourth time in the top 10. What are your thoughts on Indianapolis?
JAMIE McMURRAY: You know all my stats.

Q. Your thoughts on Indianapolis? Do you have another favorite track you like to race at?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I mean, I think being a NASCAR guy, Daytona is kind of always -- for me growing up, that was the race I always watched. But when stock cars started coming here, this became a track that everyone wants to win at Daytona and Indy. I told Chip today, we were going to do an appearance together. I told him, When I walked in the garage this morning, there's just a different feeling in here than you get at almost any other racetrack. There's just a lot of energy. And the teams put so much effort into this race, with building new cars. You always bring your best engine here, everything is just the best.
I've always enjoyed coming here. Certainly this is just one of those tracks that every driver would like to say they've been able to win at. Plus we only race here once a year so it makes it twice as hard to be able to have that. It's a very special place, for sure.

Q. Bono and Jamie, not to remind you, you're still chasing the Chase. It's an understatement to say you come to every race looking for a win. What is the philosophy, the wild card of Watkins Glen, how do you get into the Chase?
KEVIN MANION: We're testing tomorrow for Watkins Glen. That will help there. It's going to be tough. But consistency is the key to making the Chase. We had a string there, second, 34th, second, 30th. The seconds are cool, but the 30ths don't cut it.
I think there's six more races to the Chase, or five. It's just going to be five top fives. We picked up another 30 points today. 30 times five is 150. We're 151 out. It's going to take some good, strong runs. That's all I got to say.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I view the Chase differently I think. Every time I pay attention to points, we run 30th. I don't even really care where we're at in points. I think you show up every week, do your job. If you make the Chase, that's wonderful.
Everyone wants to make the Chase. Getting to win the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 means more to me this year than making the Chase. This year or in 10 years, the guy that won that race one time everybody will talk about. The guy that finished third in the points, nobody cares. I would really like to be in the Chase, but I have no focus on that at all. I know Bono doesn't want to hear that, but I don't.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thank you for your time.



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