Q: Jamie, congratulations, just a super win for you here today, your first win in 2013, but your seventh win in theSprint Cup Series. You’ve won twice now here at Talladega. Talk a little bit about what your strategy was there at the end because it certainly worked.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, I felt really good about our car in practice. When you come to Daytona or Talladega you run 10 laps of practice and your car is either good or it’s bad. Spring race here I didn’t feel very good about the car, didn’t suck up very well, just didn’t seem to have any speed in it.
On Friday I felt really good about it. I told Bono, it’s really good, it’s fast, it sucks up, it drives well. If we get ourselves in the right position we can win on Sunday.
Just overall had a really good week leading up to this. Bono and I were talking about it just a little bit ago. When you come to a plate track, the mentality, it goes both ways. Sometimes you’re excited, sometimes not so much. I just was really excited about and looking forward to coming here this weekend. Had a good week leading up to this. We had a good practice on Friday.
I was a little discouraged that I couldn’t get to the front earlier in the race. I felt like I put myself in a good position a few times, and I just could never get to the lead, and I felt like we had a car that had enough speed in it that if I could get there it would be hard to pass me. I saw the 48 and I think the 88, it looked like they led a lot of the race, and they could change lanes and kind of pull each lane with them.
And finally at the end with 25 or 30 to go I saw the outside lane come in, the spotter is like the 17 and 88 arereally moving along quick in that lane. I got up in front of them and then I was a little bit shocked that the 24 and the 18 let me have the outside. Those guys were in the middle and I got a big run off 2 on each of them at different times at the end, and both of them let me go to the outside, which I was shocked that they did. Once I was able to clear them, though, it went single file and then you’re just kind of counting the laps down at that point trying to figure out what the 88 is going to do for a move.
Q : Kevin, maybe just talk about some of the things that you all worked on from the time you unloaded in practice Friday and now to victory lane that you saw were some of the keys maybe in today’s win.
KEVIN MANION: Yeah, really not too much over the weekend. You know, preparation on a plate track, especially these impound races, are all done at the shop. So this is the same car we had in Daytona that led a lot of laps and finished seventh. We were able to have a well-prepared car from the guys at the shop, and like Jamie said, we unloaded and made just a handful of laps in the first practice, went from the back of the pack to the front of the pack, felt really good about it, and made one small adjustment to adjust the toe, the wheel, more so that the wheel was centered for Jamie, and pretty much parked it. Just waxed it and fluff and buff and do the things you do and just prepared for the race.
Really, like Jamie said, it’s been a good week leading up to it. We had a good practice, had good speed, and really — I’m not going to say this too — but an easy weekend, so to speak.
Q : Felix, congratulations. Talk about just the thrill of this win here today, and I know it’s important to obviously Jamie but important to your race team.
FELIX SABATES: It was ironic; I have never missed a Talladega race since I’ve been in racing, and last night I had a long night, and when the alarm clock went off this morning, I said, man, I’m not going to Talladega. I got up, yeah, I am going. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed.
And when I got here, I sat down with Bono just before the race, before we left to go to pit road, he said, we’regoing to win this race today. He had that feeling, which was a great feeling.
We’ve struggled this year a little bit. This does a lot for both of our race teams. It shows that we’re capable of winning. Jamie can drive at these places. He can drive anywhere, but any time you get Jamie on a superspeedway, he’s a force to be reckoned with. I’m not surprised that we won because we have a team that’s capable of winning every week.
Let’s go to Martinsville and win Martinsville, and that would really make for a nice month. Chip won the championship in IRL last night, so it was a great weekend. Last weekend we won the Grand American Series Championship, so the last 10 days have been pretty good for us.
Q. Felix, you kind of just hit on this, and any of you can speak to this. Obviously not being in the Chase, this is the kind of thing, though, that moving forward and looking towards next year, there’s a lot of exciting things happening with the team, if you could just talk about looking ahead and what this does going forward.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, from my perspective, it’s weird the things that go through your mind after you win a race. I talked to one of the guys from — one of the main guys from McDonald’s last night, and he had sent me a text, and he said your car looks like it’s going to be good. I said, I really think we have a chance to win. And we got into texting back and forth.
I feel like every time we’ve had McDonald’s on our car, we have not run as well as we have when we’ve had Cessna or LiftMaster or any other sponsor, and McDonald’s has 20-some races.
So when I crossed the start-finish line, as excited as I was, I was thinking about that text message and a phone call, and I’m like, I would just love to get McDonald’s to victory lane. They’ve been in our sport for as long as really any sponsor, maybe not full time, but McDonald’s has been around for a long time. It’s nice to be able to win with any of them, but I feel like in 2010 when we won three races we had Bass Pro Shops on our car for all three races and then Donald’s on the car for the others.
It’s important for the whole organization, Chip obviously winning the championship on the IndyCar side and the Grand-Am side. But Chip has made a huge — and Felix, have made a really big financial commitment to our team. The switch to the Hendrick engines was not even par with the ECR engines. It was a big financial tax on the team, and I think it’s made our cars better.
Our cars have definitely been better this year, but getting to victory lane, it really doesn’t matter what track, it definitely is a momentum builder for our whole organization.
Q. Felix, could you speak about that, too?
FELIX SABATES: Well, you know, looking ahead is what we do in this business. You can’t look backward because what happened today is history. We’ve worked very hard this week. We spent millions of dollars on the new seven-post shaker. Every car we have is new. We switched to the Hendrick motor. We have made a big, big, bit investment, and we did it because we think we can win. If we didn’t think we could win we’d just take our money and go home.
I think we’ve had a lot of opportunities to win this year, and we have some bad luck. If you look at all our races this year, some it’s our fault that we lost, but some of the races we just get caught in accidents that wasn’t our fault. I’m excited about next year, but I’m more excited about the next five races because we have our own Chase. The guy that finishes first out of the Chase gets a huge bonus, and that could help a lot of the expenses we had this year if Jamie finishes the first guy out of the Chase.
Q. Jamie, Earnhardt was in here just a while ago describing coming through 2, out of 2, and he said, I felt the run end, and then I looked in the mirror and I saw guys out of control. Could you talk about what you could see? You said you could see the 88 coming. Can you talk about what you could see from the middle of 1 and 2 on and what your thoughts were as you saw that?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I ran the last 20 laps, never looked at the windshield. I looked out the rear view mirror the whole time. The one thing I noticed early in the race was when they would get single file and everybody would run against the wall. The guys on the bottom could make up a lot of ground because it’s such a shorter distance around the bottom, and then as we’d get towards the front, the guys that were on the outside that had been leading would move down to the middle of the track and it would stall out the bottom line.
So when I got to the lead I was trying to enter a little bit lower so we weren’t using so much racetrack sothat if everyone behind me would follow, maybe the bottom line wouldn’t develop and move up as fast.
That being said, every time I entered lower, I would get away from the 88, and I feel like he was gettingmore of a run on me off the corner. As those laps counted down I was kind of trying to do something different each lap so that he couldn’t prepare for it. That’s exactly what he’s done for the last 15 laps, this is what I’mgoing to do. I was trying to dosomething different each lap.
And the other thing I noticed about this package is it’s easy to get a big run, but the car will stall out if you don’t have another car behind you helping. The package, I think it races really well. I felt like a lot of racing today, but when we all got single file, I didn’t really think the 88 could get me if the 14 wasn’t pushing him, and I — I’m looking in the mirror and I saw the wreck before the spotter said anything. Honestly it didn’t cross my mind that the race was going to be over at that point. I thought we’d have a green-white-checkered. You’re so focused on what’s going on that I’m like, we’ve actually taken the white, so if I could just get back to the start-finish line, you’d be the winner.
Q. So there was no sigh of relief there when you felt the pressure come off you from the 88 car?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, when the 88, when a car gets a run behind you, you can feel your car accelerate a little bit. You can hear the engine change pitch. Honestly I didn’t feel like he had stalledout. Like from my perspective I was getting ready to start swerving to try to get in front of him. If the guy behind you can break that plane of your rear bumper, it’s over, and so I just wanted to make sure I could keep my car in front of him.
He would have had a much better opinion of what was going on because I don’t know how much he had left or what he didn’t.
Q. He also said it might not have been the greatest run in the world but it might have been a run that got him up on your quarterpanel and then you go from there. If you said once he broke your bumper that would be a problem, if he could have got to your quarterpanel, would that have been a real tough situation for you at that point?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, if he would have gotten to my quarterpanel it would have slowed both of our cars — honestly I don’t know if the 88 would have won if he would have gotten to my quarterpanel because I feel like it would have slowed both of our cars down, especially in the middle of the back stretch. Maybe coming to the start-finish line it would have been different. But the closing rate was big for the guy third or fourth back, and earlier on in the race you would just go up to whoever you wanted to push because when you would pull out of line it wouldonly benefit you for a couple of — for a mile, and then you would fall back.
But coming to the start finish it just would have fanned out. I don’t know, it would have been interesting to see if he could have broken the plane of our bumper where we would have ended up.
Q. Jamie, you said earlier that winning at any track is a good momentumbuilder. How about for you personally? Obviously over this past season you guys have improved and you’ve had better finishes, but is that enough for a driver’s confidence, or does winning and getting to victory lane kind of — because it’s been I guess 108 races since you won?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I appreciate you pointing that out. That’s nice.
I mean, winning, it’s not just about me, it’s about everybody within our whole group. You know, probably more so the 1 guys because they’re the ones that are in victory lane. But it’s so cool to see their faces in victory lane and know that when we go to Martinsville, you have confidence, everybody does. It’s so big for us because Martinsville — to me plate tracks are probably my best tracks, and Martinsville is probably my next best. I love getting to go there.
This is a great place to be able to win at to take not only my confidence but everybody else within our group to that track where I feel we’ll run really well at.
Q. You talked about not having McDonald’s on your car. You had the Auburn logo on the car. Did you pay any attention to the game last night, Auburn getting a big win, and also, what reaction did you get from fans today with that?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I really wanted to watch the game last night, but it was Halloween night in the motor home lot and I had a three year old to dress up as a dinosaur and take trick-or-treating, and that took priority over watching the football game. I did Google it as soon as I could to see who won because I knew I was going to do a meet-and-greet with some of those guys today, and I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight.
It was really cool to have that on our car. Cessna has done a really cool thing with putting their customers on the hood, the deck lid, bringing them, letting them have the NASCAR experience. A lot of people that can afford a jet airplane can afford a lot of luxuries in life. Getting to come to a NASCAR race and come to the hauler, sit on the pit box, have that, it’s something you can’t buy.
It was cool to have Auburn on here. When they told me they were going to do the paint scheme here, I’m not a huge college football fan, but I know enough that this would be a 50/50 crowd here of some liking and some not. So it was interesting. It was fun to see the fans in the garage area either high five you or the opposite.
Q. Jamie, you were mentioning that the last — pretty much after you took the lead with 15 to go you were watching your rear view mirror the whole time. Usually in a restrictor plate race the last 10 laps lines there’s mad scrambling going on, there’s lines forming, but here there was virtually single-file racing from like 14, 15 laps to go until pretty much the final lap. Were you surprised looking out your rear view mirror that you didn’t see that kind of charge coming or did you expect people to start making moves?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, completely surprised. I don’t know how many laps I led at the end once we finally got single file. But I felt like that was going to last about five laps, and then the bottom wouldstart forming. Because earlier in the race it seemed like if the guys were running against the fence single file that you could get the bottom to make a move, and definitely in these races when you get towards the end, it becomes much more intense and everyone starts taking bigger risk, and I was listening to the spotter, and he’s like — he said there’s a line forming, but he said it’s not very organized and they’re notreally making up any ground.
I was, I was really surprised that they weren’t able to put something together and make more of a run. Yeah, I was shocked by that.
Q. You said you were shocked by it. Any theories about why kind of the way we always expect it to go here the last 10, 15 laps didn’t materialize this time?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, I really don’t know. You know, I don’t know if you can see it on TV, but when you’re the guy that’s 10th or 15th in line, you’re getting out of the throttle 50 percent entering 1 and 3. I don’t know why. You get big runs and you have to let out the throttle, and the further back you are themore you have to get out.
Yeah, I really don’t — I really thought that the bottom would form. The flipside is that you get that big run, and if you make the commitment to go to the bottom and you can’t get 10 good cars to make the commitment with you, you go backwards. And so if those guys don’t go with you, then you lose 10 or 12 spots, and the risk isn’t worth the reward. I thought guys would take a bigger chance at the end. I know the 29 car run the back most of the day. I thought he would be able to get a group of cars together. It seemed like the 31 could always make the bottom work and move towards the front. But they just couldn’t ever put it together.
Q. You talked about the trick-or-treating last night with a three year old. To be in victory lane with your child, who now probably has a little bit more understanding about victory lane, what was that like? What was it like to see your family there?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, that was — I mean, that’s top two or three moments of my life, to get to experience that with them. I don’t know if you guys heard, but when — I remember going to Matt and — I rent a space from Matt Kenseth to keep my go-karts and stuff in at his shop. So I was out in the front where they have some office space, and he’s got pictures hanging inside, some trophies, andthere was a picture of Matt and Katie and Grace and Kaylin, and I think it was Dover victory lane, and I remember seeing how excited Kaylin was. She’s a little bit older than Grace. I remember seeing how excited she was, and seeing that picture, I’m like, gosh, I went home and told Christy, I hope that we get to have that moment. That’s a really special — especially having a little boy who is into Lightning McQueen and racing in general. That would just be the coolest thing ever.
Yeah, to get to have that with my family is really cool.
Q. Did he get that picture do you think?
JAMIE McMURRAY: He was more excited about — I said, Carter, look at the camera and smile, and he got shy, and then I informed him he could have all the M&M’s he wanted if he would just do one picture, and he turned right around, smiled and held his No. 1 up. It was a good compromise.