CHEVY MENCS AT BRISTOL TWO: Jamie McMurray Press Conf. Transcript

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MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

BASS PRO SHOPS NRA NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT

AUGUST 18, 2017

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S/CESSNA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed his season thus far, his position in the point standings, his thoughts on racing at Bristol with the traction compound and many other topics.  Full Transcript:

IN RECENT WEEKS YOU HAVE BEEN SHARING A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR TRAINING JOURNEY AND SOME OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE BEEN DOING WITH CYCLING AND RUNNING. ALSO, WITH THE RUNNER’S WORLD ARTICLE THAT CAME OUT THIS WEEK YOU SHARED A LITTLE BIT IN THERE ABOUT TRAINING FOR A MARATHON IN DECEMBER.  HOW DOES THAT TRAINING POTENTIALLY HELP YOU FOR THE BRISTOL NIGHT RACE TOMORROW?
“I don’t know that there is any direct correlation whether you are cycling or running to being in the car.  There is certainly a great benefit from the cardio side of riding a bike or running and Bristol is one of those tracks that you are reminded of every time we come back here how you tend to hold your breath for numerous laps.  It takes a little while to get relaxed enough around this place, especially running the top.  Running the bottom is not near as bad as trying to get around the top of this place.  Yeah, I don’t know that it correlates exactly, but certainly is nice to be in good cardio shape right now.”

WHERE WOULD A BRISTOL WIN RANK AMONG THE WINS YOU HAVE IN YOUR CAREER?
“Well, I have said since I think 2010 after winning Daytona and Indy in the same year that the Bristol night race if I could pick one race to win that this would be the race.  So, I mean it ranks really high on my list of places to be able to win.  To go to Victory Lane here to hear the response of the people in the stands.  There is typically something else happening at the end of these races besides the winner, so to hear the reaction from all the crowd it would be huge.”

ARE YOU COMFORTABLY OR SLIGHTLY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH YOUR POINTS SITUATION?
“I’m sorry I’m vibrating.  My son got his first set of stitches today, so I’m getting an update from my wife right now.  We ran into somebody at P.E. We are six and we are a boy, that is what happened.  He is pretty ornery, but I guess he ran into somebody during gym or something at school.  He is on his, I think, second day of school, third day of school right now and cut his eye, so he had to go get some stitches.  So, as a parent you are a little bit concerned, but with FaceTime, I called him on FaceTime him earlier and informed him that I have had numerous stitches on my face, so it’s just part of being a boy.

“Am I comfy, no, I’m not.  I think until you can be locked in you just never know.  I mean another first-time winner changes it quite a bit.  What I would say this year, versus probably the last two years though, kind of being in the same position is that we are running better at every track now than we did the last two years.  Honestly, the last month has been really good.  Indy and Pocono, we had great cars and had some time of a cooler failure at Pocono and got caught up in one of the accidents towards the end of the race at Indy.  And had a great car last week, should have finished third or fourth that last caution came out and because of the guys that hadn’t pitted yet it put us, I think we ended up finishing ninth.  But, we have had really good cars.  We have another good car this weekend.  So, I feel probably more comfortable than I did the last couple of years, but I don’t know there have just been so many kinds of unique winners this year.  I mean if you would have told me in Daytona you could be eighth in points at Bristol, I would say you are locked in, but there have just been a lot of unique winners this year.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RACING ON THE TRACTION COMPOUND?
“Yeah, I mean my opinion on whatever we call that ‘the sticky stuff’, I don’t really care.  If they want to put it across the whole track, I don’t care.  If they want to put it two feet on the very bottom, I don’t care.  The track eventually is going to be around the top if we don’t get any rain.  The one thing that has hindered us the last two races here with the top not coming in quick enough is all the rain we’ve had.  I think we’ve actually run the race on a different day both last Fall and in the Spring.  Once the top gets rubbered in that will be the fastest groove, but it doesn’t really matter to me. It’s kind of fun to qualify around the top if that wasn’t on the bottom, but the fact that it is down there we are going to qualify on the bottom.  I think it might help the restarts a little bit for the cars on the inside, but every race track we go to whether it is Martinsville or Michigan last week.  You know Martinsville you have to be on the bottom on a restart and at Michigan last week you had to be on the outside.  So, it just doesn’t really matter to me.  I feel like we’ve messed with it quite a bit and I really don’t care.  They can do whatever they like and you go race and it’s the same for everybody.”

ARE YOU EXPECTING THE GROOVE TO BE UP TOP TOMORROW NIGHT?
“If it doesn’t rain, I think the groove will be on the top on lap 15 of the Xfinity race once the tires start to wear out.  It looked like to me from the time our practice started to the end, it got quite a bit lighter and the grip started to go away and the groove actually did move up and it started to rubber in.  It is just going to depend on how much rain we get.  If we don’t get any rain, yeah, I expect the Xfinity race to be around the top.”

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ON YOUR OFF WEEKEND?
“So, my off weekend I’m training for a marathon.  I decided about a month or so ago that I wanted to try to do a marathon after cycling so much in the early part of the year.  So, Josh Wise has been helping our team out and he has literally laid out every day between now and the day of the marathon of what I need to do.  The fact that we are off next week I will probably due quite a bit of running, a little bit of cycling and just kind of hang out with my family.  Our little boy started school and now he’s got stitches. We are only in our first week of school so I think just staying at home and getting them acclimated to what time you get up and what time you go to bed during the school year versus summer time it’s different.  I expect just to have kind of a normal week at home, I look forward to that.”

IS THE FRUSTRATION LEVEL UP FOR YOU THIS YEAR SINCE THE CARS ARE RUNNING WELL ENOUGH TO GET TO VICTORY LANE BUT YOU JUST HAVEN’T QUITE GOTTEN THERE YET?
“Yeah, I mean we have run really well at every type race track this year.  The plate tracks, the road courses, the intermediates have been really good.  We just haven’t been in the position to win.  We haven’t been there right at the end of the race.  I mean and honestly, we just have run from that like fourth to eighth like every single race, I feel like throughout the whole race.  You are maybe a little bit of strategy away from being able to win.  I mean I expect tomorrow night to be the same thing if we can be out front with maybe the stages play out or the pit cycle we have a car fast enough to win, it’s just getting in that right position. The stages have changed it a little bit.  It’s been kind of knowing when the cautions are going to fall.  I feel like if we qualify well and the fact that you know when the first two stages are going to be over with or when the cautions are going to be there it makes calling that race a little bit easier. I think that is why you have seen the No. 78 qualify well and kind of be able to dominate the stages because they have had the fastest car and their race is somewhat predictable for the teams in the first half. But our cars have been great, we just haven’t been in the right position at the right time.”

IS THERE ANY AGGRAVATION FOR A DRIVER THAT YOU CLEARLY HAVE OUT PERFORMED SOME CARS THAT HAVE WON THIS YEAR AND YET YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO VICTORY LANE AND THEY HAVE:
“Yep, lots of frustration with that, but, that is the rules, right? I mean I feel like they made that rule for me five years ago because I had won the (Daytona) 500 and the Brickyard and didn’t make the Chase.  And now we have been really consistent, but that is the way it is and there is nothing you can do about it.  The way I view that though is that if we make the Chase and you get locked in we have outperformed over half the people that are going to be in it.  So, if we just keep doing the same thing you should be able to advance through a few rounds.  I wouldn’t say easily, but we have run better than those people, the guys that have won a race and are kind of way down in points. Yeah, you make the Chase, the first round is, I mean if you don’t have any unexpected issues you should be able to advance to the second round, I think fairly easy.”

HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR SEASON SO FAR ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10?
“I don’t know.  I am not good at that.  We have had a really good season, we have been good at every type race track, but there is still quite a bit left to do.  I don’t know. I’m not good at rating things like that.  I will let you rate it.”

ON WORKING BETWEEN TEAMS AT CHIP GANASSI RACING:
“Well, I think when I look at the success of our team it just starts with our engineering department. The teams working well together.  Our cars and I feel like our sport is a little bit different than what it was 10 or 12 years ago in that if one car runs well or as an organization if you have one car running well it seems like the rest of them run well and if one is not then none of them are.  And a lot of that just comes down to the team being able to set the car up, I feel like, through simulation and all of the aero work that is going on.  When I first started in NASCAR the crew chiefs just kind of hung bodies where they wanted to and you would eyeball it and no one’s bodies were the same because everyone had a different philosophy of what they thought was better or what was right.  And now, everything is so structured the cars are all built very similar and we have a little bit of leeway with set-ups and stuff when we get to the track, but for the most part if the organization has speed it seems like everyone within that has good speed.”

YOU’VE MADE THE FINAL ROUND OF QUALIFYING 21 OF 23 WEEKS.  HAVE YOU MADE A CONCERTED EFFORT THIS YEAR TO BE BETTER ON QUALIFYING DAY?  WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR YOUR WEEKEND WHEN YOU ARE STARTING CLOSER TO THE FRONT?
“Well, that has certainly helped us in the points because by qualifying so well, we have been able to get a lot of points in the first stage.  But, I believe when you look at qualifying those are the cars that are fast every week.  There are some guys that maybe haven’t made the third round that are just crafty racers or the team has done a good job through strategy and stuff of getting them up there.  But, qualifying is the true test of how fast your car is and how good your team is.  We are really proud that we have been able to make it to that final round so many times.  But again, we have kind of been stuck in that like fourth to eighth every weekend qualifying and we would like to get to that next step where we can be on the pole and contend to win more often.”

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON STAGE RACING?
“So, I really like the stage racing.  I didn’t know what to expect when they announced that. It is really hard to accept change I feel like with anything.  But, as a fan, outside of the car watching the Trucks or the Xfinity races, I kind of like knowing when that caution is going to come out and the fact that there will be a restart.  Everybody, if you are a race fan, the restarts are awesome and it also shakes up the strategy just a little bit.  So, I’m a huge fan of it.  I also like it inside of the car.  I kind of like the knowns of when the cautions are going to fall and maybe the less random cautions because of having the stages and being able to bunch the cars back up.  So, yeah, and don’t know how it will impact the Chase. I don’t think it will be any different than what we have seen already, but man I like it.  I almost think back to double-file restarts and when I watch old races how it would be the lap down cars on one side and the leaders on the outside, which just seems so weird now because you think why wouldn’t we have always had double-file restarts.  I think in a few years we will look back and say I can’t believe we ever didn’t have stages.”

INAUDIBLE:
“Well, I think that when you are racing, when you are in the car, and you are slowly catching somebody it is almost like you get to have three races because if you don’t know when the caution is going to come out, you maybe don’t push as hard to get by that person or try the top side with two laps to go and see if you can get around somebody because you have so much more time to work on it.  Yeah, I think the intensity factor ramps up, in some cases inside the car when the stages are coming to an end.  I think it’s a lot more fun racing wise to have the stages.”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE STAGES AT A SHORT TRACK LIKE THIS OR EVEN A RICHMOND COMING UP VERSUS A BIG TRACK LIKE YOU WERE JUST AT LIKE MICHIGAN OR A SUPERSPEEDWAY?
“So, I don’t know that it is as much at a short track or a big track, I think it’s all about how much tire fall off you have.  Darlington is the easiest race in the world to call because if you run 10 or 12 laps, depending on how many sets of tires you have, you pit because tires make such a difference.  When we got to places like Michigan last week it is a little bit different because there wasn’t a lot of tire fall off or when you are at places like Pocono or a road course where you don’t get lapped when you pit.  I think that is where it really gets shaken up versus at somewhere like Bristol.  I mean if you pit here you lose two laps, so everyone is not necessarily on the same strategy and it might be a little bit unique here because when the top comes in we don’t have as much tire fall off, guys are able to hang on the top side a little bit better, but I mean it’s just different for every race track.  And I think that is part of what makes it fun.”

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