McMurray Gets Ford Back In Victory Lane At Talladega
* Jamie McMurray won for the third time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career with today’s victory.
* The triumph was McMurray’s second with car owner Jack Roush and Ford, and his first at Talladega.
* McMurray’s win was his second restrictor plate triumph.
* Ford has 595 all-time NSCS victories.
* Today’s win snapped a 30-race winless streak for Ford, which won the first two races of the season with Matt Kenseth.
JAMIE MCMURRAY – No. 26 Irwin Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – WHAT WAS THE LAST LAP LIKE KNOWING YOU WERE LOW ON FUEL? “I saw the guys wreck behind me and I didn’t know if you had to take the white in order for, I wasn’t real sure what the rules were, and the 9 went to the outside because he saw the same issue, but I just moved up and kind of tried to block him. As soon as I crossed the start-finish line I shut the engine off and pushed the clutch in and coasted around as far as I could. What an exciting day. We had a lot of fans out here today and, certainly, thanks to them. Irwin Tools, this is my second Cup race I’ve won with Roush in our Irwin Marathon car, and it’s unfortunate for Crown Royal because they’ve been such a great sponsor, but thanks to everyone at Irwin and Crown Royal, Coca-Cola, Kraft. It’s been a long time since I’ve won and I want to assure every fan out there that I appreciate this as much as anybody, so thanks to all my fans who have stuck with me. I just can’t believe it’s here again.” WHAT ABOUT THE KIND OF RACING WE SAW TODAY? “The bump drafting, it happens at the end anyway, but it’s good that the guys are able to get off of you. When you’re the guy that’s actually doing the bump drafting, you don’t want to get off because the cars have so much grip and the track has so much grip that you don’t really have to get off of them, so it’s a little bit different than Daytona. And then I couldn’t believe the single-file that we had. When I was leading that deal at the end I knew that there would be an inside row that would come up and challenge us, so it was very exciting for me there.”
PAUL MENARD – No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion (Finished 42nd) – “I was just trying to go to the back and ride for a little bit and the left rear or right rear popped. The car wiggled going into one, I corrected it, and then it just caught and went straight into the fence. We had a really fast race car. I was really happy with it in the draft on Friday. The first lap or two today I was just trying to see what I had and it felt good, so I was just bailing to the back. The guys worked really hard, but now we’ve got a destroyed race car.”
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 17th) – “Our UPS Ford was pretty fast, but we were just at the mercy of everyone around us. It was just kind of a terrible race today in general. There was a lot of single-file racing. I know it’s exciting there at the end, but what happens is NASCAR slows these cars down. They’re too easy to drive and everyone just gets kind of crazy. It’s a shame to tear up a lot of good race cars like that for kind of being stupid, but that’s restrictor plate racing. I’m glad we only have to do it three or four times a year.” HOW WAS THE NEW ENGINE? “The new engine performed great. We didn’t have any issues. We ran cool all day and had good power with great fuel mileage. It’ll be interesting to see when those guys get back to North Carolina. They’ll look at the valvetrain and the inside, but from where I was sitting it was pretty good.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Finished 4th) – “It all depends on where you’re at and where you’re running. We got our track position at the end and we knew they were all gonna wreck, so we just played it smart and got through that stuff. I’m excited for Jamie McMurray. Those guys ran good. Our restrictor plate program has been getting better and better. We had a good car, but we just lost our track position there that one time and we were fighting to get it back, but it was a good run. I’m glad we avoided the big wreck.” WHAT WAS YOUR TAKE ON THE PRE-RACE DRIVER’S MEETING? DID THAT AFFECT THE KIND OF RACING WE SAW? “Yeah, I think so. I think the guys were a little more cautious. I think that’s why you didn’t see some of those big wrecks. The guys kept it a little more cool and up in three and four they ran into each other pretty hard up there. They tried to wreck three or four times and it just didn’t happen.” SOME SAID THE DRIVERS MAY HAVE RUN SINGLE-FILE AS SOME SORT OF PROTEST. IS THERE ANY WAY THAT COULD HAPPEN? “No, if you look back at the races in the past, we’ve done the same thing. Three years ago, I was running fourth and we were all lined up on the top. I think Reutimann was right in front of me and blew up or something, so we’ve done that here a lot.”
ELLIOTT SADLER – No. 19 Stanley Ford Fusion (Finished 9th) – WHAT IS THE FIX FOR THIS KIND OF RACING? “I don’t know. I really don’t. I think NASCAR and all the drivers should sit in a private room, lock the doors and have a discussion and try to fix this together. That’s what I’d like to see.” WHAT HAPPENED? “I didn’t see what happened. All I saw out of the corner of my eye was the 14 car hit me on the right side. I don’t know what happened. I’ve got to look at the replay. It’s just tough. I was really proud of my car today. We led some laps and could push to the front. I was trying to hang out in the back and hang out as late as I could until it was time to go, and about the time I went the wreck happened. It was just a tough race for us, but we got a top 10. We got some momentum on our side and we’ll take that with us to Texas.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY RACE WINNER’S PRESS CONFERENCE
JAMIE MCMURRAY – No. 26 Irwin Ford Fusion – “I started out the race, I talked to Donnie last night and a little bit this morning about just riding around. We wrecked on like lap seven here in the spring race, and we talked about riding around at that point in the back just to log laps and I made the comment to him, I was like, ‘I didn’t come here to ride around in the back. I want to get up there and race with those guys,’ and then we wrecked on lap seven and we had to ride around wounded. That makes you think that probably wasn’t the best plan, so we rode around in the back with the 48 and the 14 and some of those other guys until just a little bit after lap 100, and then when I initially tried to move up through the field, they were three-wide, 10 rows deep, and it seemed like a row would advance and then the next lap that row would move to the back and nobody was able to make any ground. I even made the comment to the spotter and Donnie. I said, ‘It’s just gonna be luck of whoever can kind of get in the right row and make the moves.’ Fortunately for me, I shot around a couple of rows and our car was really fast and I was able to get to the front. And then, luckily, Matt Kenseth was right behind me and Matt is my teammate, but he’s also a really good friend of mine and I had a lot of faith that he would not hang me out until at least one or two to go, and he helped out a lot when they were two or three wide – to get behind me. He had numerous times he could have shot me, whether on the inside or the outside, and he elected to stay with me and it made it a lot easier.”
DONNIE WINGO, Crew Chief – No. 26 Irwin Ford Fusion – “We were just gonna ride around there at the beginning and try to log laps and, hopefully, we could at the end of the race when we made our last stop we could do the least amount we could do to get track position and taking two tires there. We did have to wait a little bit on fuel, just to make sure we got it full because it was really, really close at the end and we put ourselves in position there at the end. That’s just what we needed to do. The guys did a good job getting us out of the pits and he did a good job hanging in there staying up front.”
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 26 Irwin Ford Fusion – “I’m proud to be here with Jamie again and with Donnie for the first time. Of course, it’s been awhile since we gave Ford another win, and Matt Kenseth was running the new FR9 Ford engine and that was good to see it finished. It was in the UPS car with David Ragan as well, but Ford Motor Company has got a lot at stake in what we’re doing and we certainly owed them more success than we’ve been able to give them this year, but we’re glad to get that straightened out. We don’t have as many races left as I’d like. I’d like to go out the back door with Jamie, but I’m not gonna be able to. I guess we’re gonna have to part ways at the end of the year here based on going from five teams to four. That’s a great sadness, but I hope we can win another race with Jamie and certainly I’m happy for this one. The guys did a nice job. The car had speed in it and they didn’t make a mistake all day. I thought we were gonna find another way to lose one of these races. I thought in the closing laps there the cars were gonna run out of gas and delay the restart of the race until it was our turn and then we’d be out of gas, too. That was my horror. In fact, I had to turn away and get off the pit box. I couldn’t stand it. I left.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY CONTINUED – THOUGHTS ON YOUR FUTURE? “Being able to win is not gonna hurt my chances at getting another ride. I said this kind of jokingly on TV, but my first year or so Jack was a little bit mean to me would be the easy way to put that. His motivating skills, he just wasn’t pushing the right button. He’s told me numerous times that everyone is motivated differently and Jack has become a really good friend of mine in the last year and he’s learned to push the right button, I guess, when he comes up to my car before the race and what to say to me. I’ll miss not getting to drive one of these cars. Jack’s team can just put incredible equipment on the track and this year hasn’t been as good as what it’s been in the past, whether it’s been the engine shop, or the engineering department or the chassis shop, he has an incredible race team. My years here have been good. The performance certainly hasn’t been what I think either one of us expected coming and almost making the chase my first few years in Cup. Coming over here I thought that it would be kind of a sure bet and it just hasn’t been as good as what it needed to be. Certainly, I’ll miss being a part of this organization, but you never know. You might end up driving for Jack one day again, so I’m not gonna make him mad in this little meeting we’re having here.” DO YOU EXPECT TO BE MORE VISIBILE NOW IN SOME OF THESE DRIVER DEALS? “No, I don’t think so. There aren’t a lot of rides available right now. Everybody knows what rides there are out there and, certainly, if a sponsor were to call me that would make it a lot easier. With the amount of teams that are shutting down there’s not a lot of options out there, so I think everyone knows the cars that are available right now. For me, I just hope that we can get it signed and then announce it whenever they want to so that will make it a little bit easier to sleep at night.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU ON THE BOX WITH EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED TODAY? “I was up there to try and console Donnie and finally the cars started running out of gas one after another and we called off the one-to-go twice and I couldn’t stand it. I was gonna throw up someplace, so I had to go find myself some privacy.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY CONTINUED – “This is a different type of racing than what we do, it’s even different than Daytona because handling is irrelevant here. It’s all about just kind of getting in the right groove and having a really good engine. It’s really weird how you watch the truck race and everybody rides around the bottom and then in our race everyone rides right up against the wall, but it seems like these cars with the way they suck up, you need to be on the right-rear of the guy in order to make the pass. It’s really hard to make the pass on the inside. Ideally, what would make the best probably for the drivers is to have it be a 75-lap race because everyone would race like crazy. It seemed like everyone used their head today and they rode around, like we did, for 100 laps and tried to be calm and then it’s typical. It’s hard even when they’re policing the bump drafting. When you’re 10 rows back and they start stacking up, you can’t tell what’s going on. Everyone is fanning out trying to figure out where they’re stacking up at, but it’s really hard to see that when you’re 10 rows back. You’ve got to have your spotter be like, ‘They’re stacking up,’ so you can start to slow down. I had quite a few occasions today where I’m trying to get slowed down, I actually had someone push me through Kurt Busch. I’m lucky we didn’t have a huge wreck right there. It’s hard when they get three-wide like that.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – HOW BIG OF A BOOST IS THIS? “It’s gonna give us a great boost. I hope to win more races before the season is over. Texas has been very good to us and Homestead has been very, very good to us over the years. Phoenix has been hot and cold, but we hope to win two out of the next three races and just let somebody else have one of them. This has not been the year that we’d hoped for. Last year, Carl won the most races in the year and we won a number of races in the chase. I think we won six races in the chase total. We’ve had to average that out this year. We’ve had to give some of it back. Our people have been in place that were there to support us last year. We had just a couple of new folks and didn’t lose anybody that was in a key spot, so it was just our turn to have a lackluster year. I guess I take responsibility for that. I wasn’t visionary enough to give the direction and the guidance and the inspiration that I needed to, so we’ve fallen into a little bit of a rut but we’ll climb back out of it next year. Jamie certainly had a car that was not a fluke that he won the race today. He had speed all day and he worked with Matt and worked with other people and he executed well and wisely on the race track with regard to staying out of trouble and not getting wrecked. So he deserved to win the race and we deserved to win some other races this year that we’ve missed. Maybe some of the ones we won last year we didn’t deserve. You have to average all that out, but I’m very optimistic about next year. I think the economy is gonna get better and NASCAR is still one of the real success stories in our economy, based on how it’s maintained the spectator and the fan enthusiasm that it has and how brand loyal they are, so I’m excited about NASCAR, I’m excited about our race team. I wish that I still had my five teams, that I didn’t have to get down to four and we had a spot for Jamie, but it is what it is. We go forward.” WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH THE CARS TO KEEP DRIVERS AND FANS SAFE? “I certainly don’t want to hassle or pick a fight with Mike Helton or John Darby or with anybody else in the organization, but the warning they gave today was pretty much the same warning I’ve heard everytime we come here to Talladega. It’s more Talladega than it is at Daytona because Daytona is more of a handling track and this is just a wide-open track here, but until they penalize somebody for bump drafting and say, ‘OK, this is the line. Here it is. You cannot do this. You can go up to this point and you can’t go further,’ it’s very confusing for me and I’m sure it’s confusing for the drivers and nobody knows what’s gonna be the consequence if you push around the race track. There were people that pushed around the race track today in the corners as well as in the straightaways and, on some of the occasions, it was OK. I’m not sure it would have been OK for everybody in all occasions, and if you think it’s OK some of the time, then you’re inclined to push some of the time and there in is where the trouble starts.”
DONNIE WINGO CONTINUED – HOW DO YOU DETERMINE STRATEGY IN A RACE LIKE THIS? “I think it’s one of those deals where we kind of planned out toward the end of the race to where we could make sure we could do the least amount we could do on pit road to get the track position. We took four tires the next-to-last stop and then we took two there at the end just to make sure we didn’t have any mistakes on pit road. They did a great job, but just to make sure we could get out and get the track position, get it full of fuel for the run there for the end. We were still a little close on fuel like Jack said. We were sweating it a little bit, but just to try to do the least we could there at the end of the race to try to get track position is what we planned on doing and it worked out.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – DID THE ROOF FLAPS WORK PROPERLY IN NEWMAN’S WRECK? “The roof flaps are organized when the car stays on the ground and turns counter-clockwise as it starts to turn the roof flaps deploy and the air foil that is formed as the wind sees the side of the car – like an airplane wing – is it upsets that air foil and makes some turbulence on the roof. I didn’t see how Ryan Newman’s wreck started. I’m sure that he had impact with other cars that winded up launching him, but the affect of the roof flap is just to stop it from becoming an air foil up to 170 or 180 miles an hour before it starts to generate lift. But if it gets force from another car, which was the case for Carl Edwards in the wreck that we had in the spring here, and I’m sure that Ryan Newman had a force like that – if you get an external force on the car, there’s not much weight on the car. It’s near zero at its best, even with the roof flaps deployed, and you could easily go airborne. Like I said, I haven’t analyzed that wreck to see how it developed, but there has not been an instance that I’m aware of when the roof flaps have not functioned as they were intended to, where the car didn’t have an impact of another car affecting the attitude.”
DONNIE WINGO CONTINUED – HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN WITH JAMIE AGAIN? “It’s just a privilege for me to come work for this organization. It’s a great group of people and to be able to work with Jamie again. We were kind of close before, really, really close a lot of times in winning races and making the chase. This year, we got started off pretty good and then kind of had a lull through the middle of the year there that really put us behind. I don’t know what it is about it, but it seems like at the end of the year here he seems to go pretty good or things start to go pretty good for everybody. I think last year they went third, third, third for the last three races, and to win here and hopefully we can win some more here before the year is over.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOLDING THE GUYS OFF AT THE END? AND DID THE RULE CHANGE MAKE IT TOUGHER FOR YOU? “Whenever I got out front and Matt was behind me, we were riding single-file and then it got two-wide and then it got three-wide. I was really fortunate that it was Matt behind me because when you’re the leader and they get two or three-wide, there’s always gonna be a row that’s faster. It might carry you into turn one, but by the time you get to turn three, that won’t be the fastest row, there will be another one. I just stuck with whatever lane Matt was in and Matt’s car was fast enough to get back to me before someone would pull up in front of me. The 88 did pull up in front of me at one point, and I got a huge run and got by him and then I got right back up in front of Matt. So, really, Kenseth put me where I was at the end and kept helping me out and kept helping me out. It takes a little bit of luck to be in that position. Certainly, you can think all you want which lane you need to be in, but you have to have someone behind you that’s willing to help and when it’s your teammate and a friend it makes a big difference.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FR9 ENGINE? “I was very confident of the engines themselves for all the moving parts of the engine. I was a little bit of a question about the valvetrain and the valve spring, but all the basic engineering that’s gone into that engine has just been the best I’ve ever seen, so I was confident of that. I was most nervous about that mechanically-driven fuel pump, if you recall, that virtually all the teams that have gone to engines with these rear fuel cell mounted cable driven fuel pumps have had trouble, and I was just scared to death that we’d break a chain, break a cable, or have trouble with that fuel pump, but the fuel pump worked good. The engine did what it might. We’ve got to work on getting it as lean as we had the existing engine. We weren’t as lean. We didn’t quite get the fuel mileage out of the 17 and out of the 6 that we did, but that’s not because of anything inherent in the engine. That was just my lack of confidence in what I was seeing to do what I thought I might do and I’ll be more confident and we’ll be more aggressive with that when we go to Daytona.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – DID YOU HEAR NASCAR WARN ANY OF YOUR DRIVERS TODAY? “I heard my spotters as I monitored the teams talk about other cars, other than our cars, that were bump drafting in the corners and it seemed like at one point the bump drafting in the corners light was on and it was OK, but that was just based on hearsay. I didn’t actually see that myself. It was what I heard from the spotters and I’ll have a chance to talk to them this week and understand if they were exaggerating, if it was a real phenomenon that started to occur. There was no warning to any of my guys that I’m aware of by NASCAR, and I monitor NASCAR, along with other people, and I didn’t hear them warn anybody else. They may have, but I may not have been on the right channel at the right time.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY CONTINUED – “I did get pushed around the corners a couple times. I don’t remember who it was, but, really, Matt Kenseth was the one that probably followed the rules the best of anyone that I was around. He would push you down the straightaway and then get off of you everytime he got to the corner. Matt definitely listened in the driver’s meeting. I don’t know that everyone else did, but, really, if they’re not gonna let you lock together and push for an entire lap, it doesn’t do you a lot of good to push through one corner because if you get two cars too far out in front, they go so slow that when the pack catches them you really can’t get any help, so when guys would push me like that I would drag the brake so that I didn’t get too far out in front and they didn’t get too big of a run on me.” ARE THERE STILL QUESTION MARKS ABOUT THE RULES HERE FOR WHEN WE COME BACK NEXT YEAR? “When I listened to Mike Helton describe what they wanted, you could tell that it’s gonna be very hard to police 43 people. I assume that if they get a TV camera on you and NASCAR was watching that TV camera and they saw you push all the way around the race track, it would be easy to say, ‘That’s not right.’ But I think it’s very hard when guys are two and three-wide to be able to look at everybody. I thought that what they said was fine. I don’t think that you should be pushing around the corners on lap 20, and we saw it in the spring and even last fall, you’d see guys get hooked up and they would drive a half-a-mile ahead of the field. You can do it. It’s actually pretty exciting when you get the guy behind you shoving you through the corner because it’s a little bit hairy, but you don’t need to be doing that on lap 20 or lap 50 or lap 100. I think it’s a little bit different when you’re coming to the checkered flag. When you’re the guy in front, I think it’s a little bit misled that the guy in front, he doesn’t set that up. He doesn’t go, ‘Well, I’m gonna drag the brake and get that guy to me.’ It doesn’t work like that. The guy behind has to have a big enough run at you to break that plane of your rear bumper. It was very easy to get big runs at guys today and you’d get a foot from them and your car just stopped, and I mean you’d have a big run and think, ‘I’m gonna hit him pretty hard,’ so it’s tricky to get locked up like that, so it’s not like two guys working together could be like, ‘We’re gonna do this on the last lap.’ It’s a little bit of luck to get those cars locked together.”