JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA/MCDONALD’S CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at the Charlotte Media Tour and discussed the new race car, his first marathon, the age differences of drivers in the sport, and more. Full Transcript:
IS THERE ANYTHING FROM THE XFINITY CAMARO THAT WILL HELP YOU GUYS WITH THE CUP CAMARO ZL1?
“I don’t think so. I think it is different. I think the bodies are different. I don’t know to be honest with you. I am pretty sure they are different so I wouldn’t say that if there is anything to correlate between the two.”
IS IT TOO EARLY TO GET EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW CAR?
“That’s the word of the day. Excited. No….they’ve done a lot of wind tunnel testing up to this point with the Camaro. However, the way NASCAR is going to inspect cars is a little different with the body scan, so the tolerances are a lot tighter than they were last year. Everybody is going to have less downforce than they did last year just because of the new Hawkeye System just because of how they are teching the cars now. It is a little bit of an unknown. We know the difference from where we were last year until now. But, you just don’t know the difference for everybody else. Until we get to Atlanta, we aren’t going to have any idea.”
DAYTONA WON’T TELL YOU ANYTHING?
“It will tell you how high your drag number is versus everybody else, but the majority of the racing is not based on drag; it is all based on downforce. You just won’t have any idea.”
SO ATLANTA IS THE PLACE?
“Yes. They did a test at Texas and it looked like everyone was the same speed. Like really close. So I think all the cars will be really close again.”
YOU DID YOUR FIRST MARATHON?
“I did. It was fun. It was a huge challenge to go from running maybe five miles at some point in my life, but three miles was the most I had run on a regular basis. So, to go from that to competing in a marathon at a fairly competitive time, was a huge challenge. It was four or five months of training and almost every day. Not just running. There was a lot of cycling involved in that. Then, obviously racing on Sunday makes the training even harder because most of my long runs were on Monday. When you get out of a car, you are dehydrated so that makes Monday’s pretty tough. It was fun. I’ll do another one for sure. I had a great time. It was a good experience not only leading up to it, but also in the marathon, you take off running and after about an hour you end up in a group of people that are at your pace. You have conversations and get to know people and had a great time of it.”
WHICH IS HARDER? THE MARATHON OR THE COKE 600?
“Well everything is different hard. The thing that is hard about the Coke 600 is the length of it and the heat. It’s so hot that time of year. The thing about a marathon, you never get a break. I guess you can have all the breaks you want, but you obviously run the whole time. Huge fatigue in your legs. I got to mile 22-23 and it felt like I was running in snow. Just heavy feet. Hard to keep moving. My heart rate never got high, but it is interesting. There are a lot of things that correlate. The mental breakdown that happens in a race when you get hot or tired is very similar to what happens in a marathon. You don’t think as clearly as you do at mile one; at mile 10; at mile 20. So some things are kind of relatable. Everything is hard, it is just different hard.”
WERE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR FINISHING TIME?
“I did it in 3:25 (hours and minutes). That’s a 7:48 average mile. I took off at like a 7-minute mile the first mile. I didn’t want to run that fast. The reason I want to do another one is because I learned. What I didn’t realize is that when the marathon takes off, there are people that are running a half marathon and people running a full one. Obviously people running the half are going to run at a faster pace – at least some of them are. I didn’t mind that, but you are getting run over. Then there was also people that started in the front that were not nearly at the pace I was going to run at so you are running over them. So I ran faster to literally trying to get away from people. My goal was to try to qualify for Boston which was unrealistic, but that’s the goal I set. That would have been something like a 3:12. I was at that pace up until like mile 22. Not that I would ever run it. That is a big deal in the runner’s world to say you qualified for Boston. It’s the weirdest thing because as I said, my heart rate never got high. I was running at basically a conversation pace, but I slowed down when I got to the aid station because it was better to grab the water, take four steps slow, drink it and then take back off. I did that every aid station up to mile 22. I slowed down and got my water and went to take off and I was like I can’t go. I didn’t feel tire, but my legs got tired. So I would like to do that so I could run that 7:15 or 7:20 mile pace and try to finish that.”
WHAT WAS YOUR HEART RATE?
“My goal was to stay below 165 beats per minute. Josh Wise helped me train for this and he said as long as I could stay below that…the goal was to not build up lactic acid and to be able to endure this for three hours. If you get above that lactic acid threshold, you only have about 20 minutes before your body shuts down and you just can’t perform any more. But my heart rate never got over 155. It was really around 147 to 150 almost the whole time, which was really low. In a car it is a little different. Like at Daytona, coming to a restart you might get to 170 from anxiety and adrenaline. I think Loudon was the highest heart rate I had last season, and I think it was about 170 max heart rate. That wasn’t under adrenaline loads. It was mainly from heat and your body trying to cool itself down. You just gets so hot that your heart rate elevates because it is working so hard to pump fresh blood to your skin.”
DO YOU HAVE A SUPER LOW RESTING HEART RATE?
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know what my resting heart rate is. I honestly never checked my resting heart rate. I hear people talk about that, I just never do. I wake up in the morning and I’ve tried to check it a couple of times, but I’ve gotten so excited that my heart rate go to 90 and I know my resting heart rate is not 90 just sitting here. I don’t know.”
THERE IS AN AGE GAP BETWEEN YOU AND KYLE (LARSON), BUT JIMMIE JOHNSON IS NOW THE GRANDPA OF THE YOUNG DRIVERS AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. ANY ADVICE FOR JIMMIE?
“Appreciate that. (Laughs) No, I have no advice for Jimmie Johnson. No, none.”
IS IT HARD TO RELATE TO THOSE YOUNGER DRIVERS?
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t really know how Kyle views me. I don’t know if he looks at me as Jamie. Or an old Jamie. I don’t know how he looks at me, and I know he probably would answer that not 100% honest with you guys. (LAUGHS) I don’t know how he views me. But I don’t look at Kyle as a kid. I just look at Kyle as Kyle and sometimes he does things – not racing related – and I’m like man. Then I remember he is 25 and I’m like I would have done the same thing when I was 25. I’m sure I do things and he’s like well he’s 41. When I’m 41 I will probably do dumb stuff like that too.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL APPRECIATION FOR OTHER ATHLETES WHO PERSIST? HOW HARD IS IT TO PERSIST AS AN ATHLETE AFTER THE AGE OF 40?
“I don’t know. For me, personally, I’m in better shape than I have ever been in my whole life, no matter how old I was. And I don’t know Tom Brady. I know very little about his story other than what I learn on TV. When I look at Tom Brady, and maybe it’s because I’m his age, I don’t think he looks old. I think he just looks like another quarterback. So, I don’t really view him differently.”
HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE TO SHAKE DOWN THE NEW CAMARO ZL1?
“I don’t know the answer to that. Daytona is going to be unique, a one-off race, because it’s all about low drag. The other thing that’s going to happen at Daytona that I haven’t heard anyone talk about is that there are no ride-height rules this year, so it’s going to be completely different for all of us. And then once we get to Atlanta, and you kind of see…. Actually the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) is doing a Vegas test. You’ll kind of know where they stack up against the other cars and maybe kind of compare that to last year to see where you were. But I think you have to see where you are and if you feel like the cars are just as fast as they were last year, then it will be a pretty easy learning curve. If you’re not, then it’s going to be a harder learning curve. The one thing in today’s world that is different than it was five or 10 years ago, is that the whole car is set-up off simulation and part of that program is that they take aero maps into account and they can kind of adjust the balance based on the aero maps. And so, we have all that information and so if the aero map is a little different or if a rules change comes into play, they kind of adjust the set-up for that. And it all makes sense. It’s not like it was 10 years ago where it was a little bit of a guess. So, I think it’s a different time now.”
DOES IT HELP A LITTLE BIT THAT THERE AREN’T VERY MANY RULES CHANGES?
“Yeah, I think that’s good. Two or three years ago, we were changing the rules a lot to try to make the racing better. And, I think that they did go in the right direction. I don’t know that rules changes really affected the racing that much. We still have tracks that have really good races and tracks that have bad ones, right? Or, just not as exciting. But no matter what the rules are, I feel like that’s the way it would be. I feel like every time we had a rule change, it was just a huge expense to the teams. And I mean the one thing this year that’s different is the amount of pit crew members. I don’t want to say that’s a struggle for the teams, but it sounds like it takes different people to do kind of different jobs. And maybe the most important people on the pit crew last year aren’t the most important people now on a pit crew. Now it’s maybe someone that wasn’t as important last year. So, like those roles and the people that you need stronger or faster are different just because of the rules changes. And so, I think there are changes, but just not on the cars.”
YOU’RE GOING TO BE DOING XFINITY RACES THIS YEAR. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY?
“I don’t know exactly; there will be at least three, though.”
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT?
“Yeah. I was going to do a couple the last few years. It just didn’t work out. I didn’t push real hard for it. The thing is, when you are a Cup driver; like with Kyle (Larson) and I, you both want to kind of do the same ones. Like everybody wants to do Watkins Glen because we only go there once a year and it’s a road course and it’s a little more fun. And then there are a few tracks that nobody wants to do. And so, I was like, well, I don’t want to do those. I just don’t want to be in for those races. So, there were a few things that led to that. But DC Solar wanted to do some Xfinity races and I wanted to and they picked some good tracks. So, I’m looking forward to it.”
WHEN MATT MCCALL WON THE SOUTHERN NATIONAL IN NOVEMBER, WHAT WAS THE CONVERSATION? DID YOU REACH OUT TO HIM?
“Yeah, we always have like a big group text that typically is making fun of each other, but at that point we were all just kind of asking how he was doing. I can’t remember where I was. I wasn’t near a computer. And so I think Frank, our tire guy, was on one of the websites kind of keeping up and he was keeping us up to date. It was really cool for Matt. That was special. He put a lot of work into that. I didn’t grow up racing with those guys, so I don’t really know who the good guys and the bad guys are in Late Model racing right now. And, Matt explained to me that these were some of the better guys. It’s hard to go back and do any form of racing, and win. It’s one thing to go back and just do it, but to go back and win is exceptional. And that was really cool for him to be able to do that.”
DOES IT PROVIDE YOU A LEVEL OF COMFORT KNOWING THAT WHEN YOU’RE TALKING TO YOUR CREW CHIEF YOU’RE ALSO TALKING TO A RACER AND THAT YOU GUYS CAN TALK RACER TO RACER?
“I don’t look at Matt that way and his strengths. Matt is really smart. And he does a nice job of explaining things. When he first became a crew chief, there were a lot of unknowns. He didn’t know like what I wanted to know, and vice-versa. The first year, we kind of laughed about it this winter, but there were a couple of moments when we got mad at each other, right? But those led to understanding each other better. And so each off-season since then, you kind of put your list together of what I wish you could do better, and vice versa. We both have worked on those for the last couple of years and it certainly has helped our relationship in working together. But, Matt’s work ethic is as good as it could be. You can’t find anybody that is willing to put more time and effort and 100 percent of their focus into making your car faster. And he has kind of instilled that in all the guys that work on our team. And as our sport not necessarily gets smaller, but as some of the teams go away, all the people that are left are really good. Like if you in NASCAR at the Cup level right now, it’s because it’s like you are the best. The people that don’t either choose to leave or they just weren’t at the same level as people that are still here. And, Matt’s done an awesome job of putting together an amazing group of guys.”
FROM YOUR VANTAGE POINT, IF THERE IS ANYTHING YOU SEE THAT’S ENCOURAGING FOR THE FUTURE ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON, WHAT WOULD YOU PICK?
“Well, I think that the stages were a big improvement. I get asked that question a lot about if I like the stages or not. And I do because when I watch the Truck or the Xfinity races, I kind of like knowing that the caution is coming out in 10 more laps and that there’s going to be a pit stop and that there’s going to be another restart. I enjoy that as a fan. So, I hope people like that on Sunday. I think they’ve done a really good job with the double-file restarts. I think they’ve done a lot to kind of keep somebody in-tuned longer.”
CONVERSELY, WHAT WOULD YOU PICK?
“Shorter races, yeah. I think that’s common among fans and among drivers and anyone. Some of these races that are four and a half house long are just too long.”