Car Swap: So who did better, Dixon or McMurray
“When I drove for Chip Ganassi from 2002 to 2005, honestly I don't think I even saw an Indy car,” said Jamie McMurray, the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner. “Never had the opportunity. When I came back here, I told Chip that if there was ever a chance, I'd really like to drive one of those somewhere.
"I didn't really expect all the media and everyone else to be here on my adventure. I was more wanting to go spend half a day with the team somewhere and really get to test, and see what it's like. But this is a really cool opportunity for me.”
“The whole sitting-with-a-cover-over-you and the seating position, and all the other things that were different in the car, the way the wheel is and how massive it is, all that was fun,” Scott Dixon said. “This place is massive. I spoke before about how Indy is large as well, but I think the sheer size of this and how it's spread out, when you go out there, you feel really lonely by yourself.
"It would have been nice to maybe have a few other cars out here and maybe take the restrictor plate off and see the full power of these kinds of cars on a track like this. I really enjoyed it. It was definitely an eye-opener. It was something I’d love to have a go at again.”
Just not on a steady basis.
“Sprint Cup is a massive sport and has a huge following,” Dixon said. “I think the thing that's most intriguing, as you’ve seen by the people who have tried to make the transition or have made the transition, it's 43 cars that are very, very tight and very, very close. I think the tough part for me would be actually doing the 36 races a year. That's a lot of travel.”
McMurray did let Dixon’s car and the Barber circuit get the best of him. He spun. Besides that he was slower than the Indy Lights guys were running.
“It was the slowest corner on the track, and I was just trying to go a little quicker,” McMurray said. “The car wanted to spin the tires really badly right there, and I probably didn't give it enough time to get the tires warmed up enough. If I had to choose somewhere to spin out there, that was a really good selection, because it didn't cost anything.”
McMurray’s overall assessment seemed to back up my earlier contention that he got the better end of the deal.
“I thought the hardest part was just being in the open, and being exposed without a windshield, but that didn't bother me at all,” McMurray said. “I actually enjoyed being out in the open and not having to look through a visor and a windshield.
"The hardest adjustment was just knowing how hard you can push, and what the limits are of sliding the car. When we run Watkins Glen or Sonoma, the whole race is about sliding around the corners. After spinning out at about 30 mph over there, I was really timid to push the car any harder in the fast corners.
“I'm just glad they called me in, because I kept picking up about two seconds a lap. At some point that ends, and you end up dropping a wheel off the track. But I couldn't believe how much more comfortable I got in the car.
“The sensation of speed was more in acceleration and braking. The cornering did not feel that much faster, even though it was. The car had so much grip and so much control that when you’re going around a corner 30 mph faster than you could in a Cup car, I didn’t sense the speed there.”