Chevy NSCS at Martinsville Two: Jamie McMurray Post Qualifying Press Conf. Transcript

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
GOODY’S HEADACHE RELIEF SHOT 500
MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 24, 2014

JAMIE McMURRAY PUTS CHEVROLET SS ON POLE AT MARTINSVILLE
Five Chevy drivers qualify in top-12 positions for Sunday’s race

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 24, 2014) – Jamie McMurray drove his No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS to the pole position Friday at Martinsville Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. McMurray posted a lap of 18.954 seconds (99.905 mph) for his second career pole position at the track.

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McMurray’s lap was good enough for a 0.057-second gap back to second place and his 11th career pole in the Sprint Cup Series. He led a group of five Team Chevy drivers in the top-12 of qualifying for Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. ET race around the 0.526-mile track.

“It’s a great start to our weekend for our McDonald’s Chevrolet,” McMurray said. “We tested here and I thought we had a really good test. Keith (Rodden, crew chief) and Josh (Sell, engineer) just did a really good job adjusting on the car. It’s amazing you can go quicker your second time out. For years we came here to these places and ran slower. That was a good lap.”

Friday’s session marked another good start to a Martinsville weekend for Team Chevy. Bowtie drivers have won seven straight races at the circuit and 53 times in 131 series races.

Ryan Newman, one of eight drivers still remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, qualified ninth at 19.159 seconds (98.836 mph) in his No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS. He was the only Chevy SS Chase driver to make the final round of qualifying.

Tony Stewart was the fourth-fastest qualifier Friday with a lap of 19.070 (99.297 mph) in the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS. Other Chevy SS drivers in the final round of qualifying were Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS in seventh; and Kurt Busch, No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS in 10th.

Team Chevy has two additional drivers in the Chase. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, qualified 13th. Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS will take the green flag in the 33rd starting spot.

Joey Logano (Ford) was the second-fastest qualifier followed by Matt Kenseth (Toyota) to round out the top five starters.

The Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday. Live coverage will be available on ESPN, MRN, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER

TELL US ABOUT THE EXCITEMENT OF WINNING THE POLE AND KNOWING YOU WILL LEAD THE FIELD TO THE GREEN ON SUNDAY:

“We tested here a couple of weeks ago.  I thought we had one of the best tests that I had been a part of really since I started racing.  Just a really well organized and I thought we made the car better throughout the test and hit on a couple of things that really had a lot of speed in it. I was pretty excited about getting here this weekend.  Our cars have been so quick the past two or three months, all year, but more so in the past few months.  This is a great track for me and we had a really good test.  When things are going well you get excited to come back to the track.  It was great that we were able to take that test and use that towards earning the pole today.  Keith (Rodden, crew chief) and Josh (Sell, engineer) made really good adjustments on our car from the first run to the second run really that was a difference maker.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO WIN A RACE TO VALIDATE THE SEASON?

“Well we have already won a race.  We won the second biggest paying race of the year.  It’s unfortunate that doesn’t qualify you for the Chase, but we have run well enough to win and that is as important to me as getting to Victory Lane.  You have to be consistently in the top five before you can win a race, with the exception of maybe winning at Daytona or Talladega.  You cannot run well at some tracks and still pull out a win there.  Our cars have been good.  We ran really good at Loudon, a flat one-mile track.  Our intermediate program has been really good.  We ran well at Richmond, our car is good again this weekend.  We have been good at every type of race track and that is probably what I’m most proud of about our whole organization or group is that we haven’t just hit on it at short-track’s or just hit on intermediates.  We have had really good speed, both cars, at every type of a race track we have been to.  We had a great car at Talladega last week.  That is awesome, every week knowing that you ran well at that type track the last time you were at one.”

IN THE CHASE HOW DO YOU VIEW THESE RACES?  DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS TRYING TO PLAY THE SPOILER?

“It’s really not any different.  It’s probably a lot different for people watching on TV, fans that are watching on TV because the commentators talk about the guys that are in the Chase, the guys that aren’t. Everyone looks the same when you are in the car.  You don’t say ‘well that guys is in the Chase, that guy is not.’ It will be different when we get to Homestead, because we are all going to know who the championship guys are and that the championship is riding on that one race.  But the races leading up to this, it’s really not any different.  Everybody looks the same.”

FOR A NON-CHASER HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE THESE MOMENTS WHERE THE ATTENTION IS ON YOU AND SOLELY ON YOU?

“Well it’s a little bit frustrating when I watch some of the races back that Kyle (Larson) and I have run extremely well.  It’s a little bit different with Kyle (Larson) because Kyle is new and fresh and has a really good story there.  It’s different with me because I’ve been around for a while and you run in the top five all day long and you probably don’t get the recognition that you would if it was the first round of races versus not being in the Chase.  So, it’s important to win, but no more now than what it would be six months ago or the second race of the year.  It’s about winning every week.  It doesn’t matter which race it is, what track it is, you show up every week to win.  It’s not any more important now, but it would be nice.  I’ve been lucky enough to win three or four Chase races, not being in the Chase. It wouldn’t be totally a new to me, but yeah, this is a track that I’ve really run well at and I’ve got to win some really big races.  Probably the night race at Bristol and here would be the two for me I would love to be able to get a victory at and actually get a clock this time.”

DO YOU EXPECT THIS YEAR’S CHASE FORMAT TO CHANGE THE DYNAMIC OF THE RACE AT ALL?

“I think it’s much more intense throughout the garage area every single week.  When you are not in the Chase you kind of can stand back and look at everybody.  I’m friends with a lot of those guys in the garage area and you can tell the guys that are a little bit stressed out.  I think the way it was before if you had two or three good races by the time you would get to here you had a little bit of a cushion or when you got to Talladega you had a little bit of a cushion.  The fact that it’s reset, I think that it’s much more stressful on all of those guys.  For me as a fan watching I didn’t really know what to expect from this.  But it’s produced some great racing and I don’t know that there is anything boring that we have had over the past Chase races.  It’s been pretty exciting every single week.  I think it’s been a success.”

WHAT ARE YOUR BIG PLANS FOR TONIGHT SINCE THIS IS YOUR FIRST FATHER/SON WEEKEND?

“Well Mario Kart is our big plan for tonight.  It’s been a little bit of a debacle in our motorhome to get Mario Kart to work.  My buddy Tim (motorcoach driver) has been working on it for hours today and we still can’t make it function.  But we are hoping it works and he wants to go get a Jeff Gordon car and a Kasey Kahne car.”

THIS IS MCDONALD’S’ FOURTH POLE WITH YOU DRIVING. HOW BIG WOULD IT BE FOR YOU TO WIN ON SUNDAY?

‘Yeah, that would be huge. I’m really proud to represent McDonald’s. It’s really cool to me that they used me in the Monopoly commercial. That was really special. It’s great; not only for me, but I think for NASCAR and racing in general because they play that commercial during every type of sporting event just random TV; you see that commercial a lot. It’s really cool of them to put me in that. I thought it was awesome.”

WHAT WAS THE PROCESS?

“The process was that I flew to Akron, Ohio and we started there. The commercial actually didn’t take all day. We were there all day but it only took maybe 25 or 30 minutes to shoot it. And if you’ve seen the commercial, the car is obviously the game piece for Monopoly and it was like a life-sized version of that and they made that for all the pieces. So it was kind of cool. It was fun to get to meet LeBron (James) and I hung out with Patrick Kane quite a bit. I don’t know a lot about hockey, but I do now. I am paying more attention to it because when you make friends with some of those guys, you tend to want to watch their sport more.”

YOU ARE NOT TALKED ABOUT A LOT FOR BEING GREAT AT MARTINSVILLE, BUT THIS IS YOUR SECOND POLE HERE AND YOU HAVE A RUNNER-UP FINISH HERE. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE A LITTLE BIT OVERLOOKED?

“This has been a good track for me. It’s not a big surprise to me, but I am totally okay with being in the shadow. I’ve thought about this a lot and some of it goes with an earlier question about maybe not getting the recognition when we run really well. But, I kind of stick to my own business and it’s not a big deal to me about maybe always being famous. I think there are a lot of guys in the garage area that really love the TV time and they love just saying nonsense and getting you or her to write a story about them, right? And I just kind of sit back and laugh at that. I don’t really care about that part. I’m here because I love racing cars. I’m here to sell cheeseburgers and treat people that come here with Cessna to an amazing experience, whether you’re a customer or you’re an employee. So, I’m okay with that part of it. It’s not really that big of a deal to me.”

YOU MENTIONED EARLIER ABOUT HOW YOU AND TEAMMATE KYLE LARSON HAVE BEEN RUNNING REALLY WELL RECENTLY. ARE YOU ABLE TO PINPOINT WHY THAT IS?

“Yeah, I know why. It’s because of the amazing amount of work that they have done and it’s been two or three years at our shop of getting everything in place and where it needs to be. Your simulation program, your seven post; the whole engineering department, everything; and getting the cars lighter. We had a huge discussion in the trailer this afternoon about how much lighter they made our cars from the first Martinsville race to this race in just the past five months and how far we’ve come.  It would take me an hour to explain to you why everything is going as well as it is. And there is just an endless amount of reasons.”

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