Photo by Jeff Kluss/ SIT

Post Race Interview with Jamie McMurray  07/07/2007 Daytona

Jamie McMurray – “I’d been in place in the white-flag lap a few times at the restrictor-plate races, and I just never put myself in the right position on the last. And, when I saw all the Hendrick cars, I think Jeff was leading and the 25 was second and the 48 was behind me, I was just pretty much committed to pushing those guys, because I felt like if I pulled out of line that I would only go backwards. But the way everything worked out I got good pushes. I had such a run on the 24 car just to pass him, and got to the lead. My car was really loose on the bottom, so I chose to let Kyle have the inside. I didn’t think that I would be able to run the last four or five laps, just he and I, I don’t know how many laps we ran. I felt like we would be put three-wide, whether someone would fill the middle or try to get on the outside of me. That’s typically what happens, but no one was able to get that run. Carl had a really good run the last lap and could’ve made it three-wide, and fortunately he was an incredible teammate tonight. He ended up giving that push and that push is what helped get me to victory lane. I didn’t even know it was the last lap, to be honest with you guys. I was on the backstretch, and I’m like, ‘How many laps are left?’ And Larry is like, ‘This is it.’ And I was like, ‘Okay. I’ll do my best.’ And then we came off turn four, and everybody knows about the side draft that you get here, and it’s so hard to time that out. I mean, it’s just the luck of the draw. I noticed that Kyle had a run off the corner and I thought, ‘Man, if I could just stall him, I’ll be able to get the run back to the start-finish line.’ And I did it. But I didn’t know that I won. I actually hit the wall after crossing the start-finish line, and I wasn’t sure I won; there was so much screaming on the radio and I couldn’t tell. I didn’t know if we were screaming because we were happy or we were screaming because we didn’t know if we won. So, I was trying to just hold it all in until I was positive that we’d won.”

 I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’D AGREE WITH THIS, BUT KURT BUSCH SAID YOU’VE ALWAYS SHOWN SOME ABILITY HERE, BUT YOU LACKED PATIENCE. DO YOU FEEL THAT’S A CORRECT CHARACTERSISTIC? “Well, I’ve never finished well in the Daytona 500, but I’ve always run pretty well in the July race. I don’t know if it’s about patience. It could be. But I’d never put myself in exactly in the position that I needed to be in. A lot of the accidents that you get involved in at restrictor-plate races aren’t of your doing, and certainly I maybe have caused one before, but I would say more than not you’re just an innocent victim. We ran up front for the first part of the race and when I got penalized, I thought, ‘I hope this doesn’t put us in the position to get wrecked now.’ And fortunately, there wasn’t any big accidents and we were able to get out of that. I maybe haven’t always put myself in the best position.”

WHEN ALL THE SCREAMING DIED DOWN, HOW DID YOU LEARN YOU WON FINALLY? AND RIGHT NOW IS THE FEELING ELATION, RELIEF OR ALL OF THE ABOVE? “I’m not sure who told me I won. What happens on the radio is, obviously, when two people talk you can’t hear, and so as I went into turn one I gave it a second for it to be clear, and I’m like, ‘Who won?’ And they were like, ‘You did.’ I don’t know who said it. I just started beating my fist against the wheel and the leg braces, almost into pain, I was just so excited. When I won Charlotte, I had run some truck races and some Busch races, but I don’t think I grew to appreciate how hard it is to win at this level. And after the year we had last year, I worked really hard getting my mind where it needed to be and at the same time getting my body in as good of physical shape as I could. My trainer is actually here this weekend. You know, getting up at 6:30 in the morning and working out every day and that’s the things that initially crossed my mind was it was all worth it, you know? I can tell you this is more special to me and I’ll appreciate this more than Charlotte – mainly because I get to fly home and maybe have a couple of Crown Royal drinks and savor it. At Charlotte it was over and I went home and I went to sleep, and I didn’t pu much thought into it. I probably won’t go to sleep tonight. I’ll probably go home and just think about it.”

YOU SAID IN A RECENT INTERVIEW THAT YOU GO INTO EVERY RACE BELIEVING YOU CAN WIN THAT RACE. HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN THAT MINDSET OVER THE PAST 166 RACES? AND WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO TODAY’S RACE? “I believed I was going to win. Actually, the way that we unloaded, we didn’t change anything – maybe a little bit of air pressure. We unloaded pretty much how we ended. I know Larry made a few adjustments to the car with the fenders and a few small things, and the car was just really good from the time we unloaded . We didn’t change anything. I told my Busch team the same thing I told Larry. I said, ‘If we finish, we’re going to finish good. We’ve got a great car.’ You just never know when you come to a plate race whether there’s going to be a wreck or what the circumstances are, but I believe if you go into every week believing you’re going to sit on the pole and you’re going to win the race, you need to do something different, because that’s how all these other guys feel.”

WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND, AS FAR AS WORKING WITH TEAMMATES, AT THE END OF A RACE? “I think it’s different with 25 – Matt pushed me with 40 laps to go for about 15 laps, and he came on my radio during one of the breaks, and he was like, ‘Look, I’ve got to run up high and I’ll help you all I can,’ and so he shoved me the whole time, the caution came out and we put tires on, and he said, ‘I’ll help you again, but if it gets down to five to go and you can win the race, don’t worry about me.’ I think that when it comes to your teammate, where that’s a bigger deal, is if it comes to helping your teammate or helping someone else, then you would obviously choose your teammate. It’s very difficult to continuously work with the guys on your team because there’s so many different circumstances where you get put in and you don’t always get put in that position where you can help, but I think you try to help as much as you can.”

ON THE MOVE TO WIN THE RACE. “The 25 car, I believe, was on older tires. I don’t know that but I noticed he couldn’t hold his car wide open, and I passed him in turns three and four and had a huge run on the top, and the 24 had a 10-car length lead and I had a huge run. I wouldn’t have attempted to pass him unless I knew I could clear him, but I had such a big run there just wasn’t anything he could do about it. You know when you look in your mirror and you see somebody coming whether you can block that or not, and I was coming so fast, he didn’t even attempt to block me, I think. But I got to the lead and there was four or five laps to go or whatever, and I thought, ‘It’s not the time to be in the lead.’ This is kind of the time when you need to be in second or third and get that run, because I don’t know that leading is the best position to be in – especially when there was three or four Hendrick cars all kind of tied up together. But I had Carl and Greg and Matt were all kind of in that, too, so I thought, well, if I do get hung out, one of these guys will come up and save me.”

WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET AFTER THE PENALTY? “Larry, one of his strong suits is that – you can tell right now, I keep telling him, ‘We won Daytona,’ just trying to get a smile out of him and I can’t really get a reaction – he’s not really high when things are great and he’s not real down when things are bad. He just told me, ‘You’ve got to do a stop-and-go. Don’t slide your tires. Don’t flat spot them.’ He has a really good voice on the radio, and it’s a very calming voice. Maybe it wouldn’t be right for someone else. I experienced this race team when things weren’t going well, so I really appreciate everything that he’s done. It’s early in the race, and when he doesn’t get excited it’s easy for me. If you have a crew chief that’s all fired up, it’s easy for you to get all fired up. So, his demeanor is always pretty calm.”

ON THE EMOTIONS FOLLOWING THE VICTORY. “You work very hard for something, and I don’t know that there’s anyone who has went from the season that I had last year to getting a win at Daytona. And that’s an emotional time. It’s hard to explain to somebody that feeling of not only seeing your team work hard, but also you. Everyone knows the story about me buying a shock dyno because I wanted to learn more about that and it didn’t help my racing career at all. Not even a little bit. It cost me 50 grand, and I still have it and that’s kind of all there is to that story. So, I worked really hard this year to get my mind and my body – I did everything I could. And when you work out every day and you do all that stuff and you’re not winning, and we came so close at Sonoma, and I thought, ‘Man, that was our chance.’ We were there and we had it, and instead we finished 37th, so you almost taste it. And then you get to have it here, and finish in the way that we did, it’s a little bit emotional and it’s because you worked so hard for something and you finally get it. It’s hard to explain to somebody, the feeling that you have.”

We at Sports Image Times would like to congratulate Jamie McMurray and all the folks at Roush-Fenway racing on a great win under the lights at Daytona.