Pit Notes: McMurray, Stenhouse Jr. Advance in Showdown; Patrick Gets Fan Vote
Pit Note #9
Saturday, May 18
NASCAR SPRINT SHOWDOWN NOTES AND QUOTES
Jamie McMurray won the 40-lap NASCAR Sprint Showdown and earned a berth in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Finishing second was a closing Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who also transferred to the main event.
McMurray took the lead on the first lap and was never challenged as he cruised to the end of the 20-lap segment ahead of Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Paul Menard.
Most cars chose to pit during the competition caution flag between segments, changing four tires and making adjustments as needed. Montoya was penalized for speeding on pit road and started the second segment from the tail end of the longest line. Casey Mears stayed out in order to gain some track position and led the field back to the starting line; restarting behind him were McMurray, David Gilliland, Truex and Jeff Burton.
McMurray quickly retook the lead in the in the second segment and was never seriously challenged.
JAMIE MCMURRAY (NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/NAT'L WILD TURKEY FED. CHEVROLET): "Obviously, being up front is important. Even running at only 80 percent, it was amazing how good the car would run in clean air. Starting in the back is going to be completely different. It is going to be really hard to pass cars. I think pit strategy is going to be important. Track position is really going to be the key. Tires do make a difference, but the clean air is so much more important when you get out front. These guys are a lot quicker, and I'm starting in the back. So we will have to see what happens. I thought we had a really good car in practice. It is crazy the grip the car has when you are out front."
RICKY STENHOUSE JR (SECOND TRANSFER, NO. 17 BEST BUY FORD): "That was really cool, getting into the (NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race). We wanted to win that thing; I thought we had a car yesterday that was capable of running up front for the lead, but we'll take second and give ourselves an opportunity to keep working on it, figure out some things for next week. The more laps the better for me, so we're definitely excited about it. We couldn't keep up that first segment, and (crew chief) Scott Graves made some great changes to the car and we were able to get it turning a lot better for us there and we were able to hold on to second. The restart was a lot of fun and I'm sure we're going to have a lot more of that in a minute.
(You seemed confident; why?) Yeah, I enjoy mile-and-a-half race tracks, and it seems like we've been better on short runs this year than what we have throughout the whole race, so I felt like we had a better car than what we had there. I was a little disappointed once we went green to start, but definitely
was a lot better that second run. I was a lot more confident in the car than when we started after the first three laps of that first segment. I was a little disappointed.
(And, just to clarify, who did you vote for in the fan vote?) No one."
DANICA PATRICK (SPRINT FAN VOTE WINNER, No. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET): "Well obviously first and foremost thank you to all the fans who voted for me, or maybe voted so many times for me. I'm very fortunate to have the fan base that I do, and I never forget that. Thanks to the Sprint Fan vote. It's a big honor. This is for the fans. God, I'm gonna sound really cheesy right now. I'm going to race for the fans tonight because I got done with that race, and I feel really fired up. I wanted to make passes and make my way up and do what I could to get to those first two positions, and I didn't do that. And I feel like owe it to them to put on a good show, or a better show, in the All-Star Race. My good team made something; I didn't know they made it, so I don't want this to sound like I'm coming up with this all on my own. But they knew how good my fans were and I know how hard they worked, so we have a "Thanks Fans" sign to put on the car just in case I won. So thank you, Team Danica and Stewart-Haas. So that'll be on the car, and I'm glad to be in the race.
(Were you able to conserve because you thought you might win the fan vote?) I think that it enters your mind that you don't do things that put you in a position to crash. But I didn't think about it at the beginning of those 20-lap runs, but when it gets to the end of them, like at the end when I was running around and clearly wasn't going to be first or second. If I was fortunate enough to be in the position I am now, I can't move on with a crashed car. There's nothing to gain by trying something desperate at that point in time.
(Why do you have such a rabid fan base?) I feel like that would be a good piece; I don't know. I feel like some fans need to be interviewed and find out what it is. I've said it many times that I'm not sure exactly what it is that people like or see or cheer for in me. I mean, I'm a driver, and I race cars, and being different, being a girl, there's things there. But what is it? All that I know is that I do my best to be myself all the time, to let the fans see different sides of my personality, to be honest with the fans, and at the end of the day, even if they don't agree with everything I say or do, at least they can respect my honesty."
BOBCAT SIGHTING: Bismack Biyombo is at tonight's NASCAR All-Star Race supporting No. 11 Denny Hamlin. But that didn't stop him from making the rounds during pre-race, helping Aric Almirola's team get pumped up with a quick huddle and hands-in cheer. He's also tweeting photos from his night @BismackBiyombo0.
FAMILY TIME: A group of crew members' kids enjoyed some time at the home track Saturday night, including a large group of little ones from the No. 14 crew of Tony Stewart. A group of about eight preschool- to school-aged kids enjoyed a quick trip to the pits (under the careful supervision of several moms) and even got to duck on top of the pit box for a photo op before the race started.