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NASCAR Superstars Jamie McMurray and Dale Jarrett Join the Debate!

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Feb. 18, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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HANNITY: The Daytona 500: it is known at the great American race. To win, drivers have to be the first to cross the finish line. But that's not easy when you're driving at 190 to 200 miles per hour!

So what will it take to get the edge in this year's Daytona 500? Well, joining me right now are two of NASCAR's big superstars, Jamie McMurray (search) and Dale Jarrett (search). How are you doing, guys?

DALE JARRETT, NASCAR DRIVER: Great.

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NASCAR DRIVER: Pretty good.

HANNITY: Good to see you. You got the pole. How did you do that?

JARRETT: Good race car. I can't take any credit. The driver's job is qualifying now. It used to be an exciting thing to do, qualifying here, when we ran over 200 miles an hour. But now it's not that fast, so I get in high gear and hold it on the right spot, and the crew gets all the credit for the pole.

HANNITY: Well, what is the right spot? Because I was trying it on these little simulators here, and I wasn't doing too well.

JARRETT: Ride around the bottom on your second lap. The shortest way around, yes, that's what you try to do.

HANNITY: That's what you do?

JARRETT: Yes, but now, Sunday our job changes. It's a lot difference. We have got a lot more work to do.

HANNITY: You know, I have got to tell you, it is — you guys have to have nerves of steel. I was out there on the track earlier today and I was watching the cars going around. And you literally are going 190, 200 miles an hour. You could stick a piece of paper between the two cars. And you know, it's an amazing skill, you know. How do you all do it?

MCMURRAY: You know, I think that, as far as me, I started racing when I was eight, go karts, and it's all that I have ever known. So when you grow up racing, and you slowly develop into the different levels of the sport, you know, when you get here, it's not that big of a deal.

And I think if you actually got in a car, and when you put everyone else going the same speed, it takes the speed sensation out of it until you start spinning, or wrecking, or trying to stop it and you can't. But you know, when you grow up in it, it's just part of — yes, it's just the way it is.

HANNITY: It's part of your life? And me opening my big mouth, talking a lot. That's part of my life. I have been doing it my whole life.

Explain the concept of drafting for maybe those people that don't know.

JARRETT: Yes, basically, and try to put it to where people might understand, everybody driving on the highway, and you get behind a truck. If you'll notice, if you have your car on cruise control at 55, which is what you're supposed to be running, but you're catching this truck, it's making a big hole in the air.

And if you're going 55, and that truck is, you don't actually have to speed up, because you're not getting any of that air. It will pull you up. It's the same thing with these race cars. We make a whole in the air, and so the car behind can actually come up and actually get to the back bumper and push.

HANNITY: You want to be right to that area.

JARRETT: Right. You want to get as close as you possibly can.

HANNITY: As close as you possibly can?

JARRETT: Then the air will suck in around behind the second car.

HANNITY: And what about the third car?

JARRETT: Third car, it will actually go around those. If you can stay close enough, that's why three and four cars can actually run faster than two cars can.

HANNITY: And that's what you want to create, almost?

JARRETT: That's what you want to create, is that vacuum that will help you to go. And if you get that big wake of air knocked out in front, then that's when you see guys really make what's called a slingshot pass.

HANNITY: See, everybody's watching racing. — They all think it's an individual sport, but there's more to it. — It's a team sport. It's individual on one hand, but it's a team sport on another hand. Explain that.

MCMURRAY: You know, I guess some of what, like what Dale said, the fact that his team sat on the pole, that all started three or four months ago with the teams building the cars in the shop, and building the chasses, and hanging the bodies, and the guys in the engine shops building the engines. And that was something that I've really come to learn.

If they don't show up with good cars, and good bodies, and good engines, it doesn't matter how great of a driver you are, how good you are at setting your car up, you're not going to win the race. So you do everything you can as a driver.

And then, when you get on pit road, you depend on your pit crew to give you a good pit stop. And you hope that they can gain you some spots, but you also hope that they don't lose any spots. So the guy that wins the race on Sunday, it will be a whole team effort.

HANNITY: We're watching the crash today. What's the worst crash you have ever had? We're looking really at two generations here. Dale, you're in the older generation with some of these other guys, Martin and Wallace, and the rest of them. Not that you're not young.

JARRETT: Well, no, I don't claim to be young. Yes, we have had our share. And that crash yesterday was somebody being a little impatient and it tore up race cars, you know? And then we have all been in that position.

You know, I probably have been in more hard crashes here at Daytona or Talladega running up front, because that's where guys are dicing around and trying to get the lead. And so things like that are going to happen.

HANNITY: And that's going to happen. It's part of the — some people are reckless and irresponsible, and that's frustrating, too, maybe?

JARRETT: I don't know what we call it — I guess reckless, irresponsible.

HANNITY: That's what I — in New York, when I'm driving on the streets that's what I call, reckless...

(CROSSTALK)

JARRETT: Let's call it some have more patience that others maybe. But it's hard. But it's hard.

MCMURRAY: That's charitable.

JARRETT: On Sunday, you have 500 miles. It's really hard to have that kind of patience for 43 guys to do that.

MCMURRAY: You know what? What you saw happen with Kevin and Jimmy, and he'll say it, it happens about every lap. And it might happen with ten different cars. It's just that sometimes the guy gets hit hard enough that he really gets turned around. And nine times out of ten, you get hit and you hang on. You're like, "That could have been big," but it wasn't. So it's frustrating for all of those guys that got their cars wrecked, and for Kevin, I know he feels bad. But that happens every lap.

HANNITY: You know, I have been to the Super Bowl before. This is much bigger. For those that maybe aren't race fans, they don't know, although NASCAR is now the biggest spectator sport in the country. You're going to have 260,000 people here, maybe more, and you're going to 35 million people watching at home. Do you think about that when you're driving?

JARRETT: I think about how fortunate we are to have all of that and the success of it. I think it's great what has happened with this sport. We owe a lot of people a lot of credit for it. But, yes, I was at the Super Bowl...

HANNITY: Including UPS.

JARRETT: Yes, UPS, obviously.

HANNITY: And Havoline.

JARRETT: You have great sponsors. That brings in a lot of people.

HANNITY: I've got Ruth's Chris on my radio show. You like Ruth's Chris? Is that the same thing?

MCMURRAY: I mean, the Super Bowl was great, but I said when we were sitting there at the Super Bowl, I said, you know, in two weeks, we're going to have three times this amount of people.

HANNITY: Three times the crowd. And it's an unbelievable experience.

We will talk about that, and maybe can I get some driving tips... We're at the Daytona 500. It's "Hannity & Colmes." We're on the road. Thanks for being with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Sean Hannity, we're live at Daytona at the Daytona International Speedway along with two of NASCAR's superstars. Jamie McMurray and Dale Jarrett are with us.

You know, this is big business. To be a major sponsor, you have UPS, obviously, because I noticed all of your hats are brown.

And you are with Havoline, two terrific sponsors for both of you guys. I have Ruth's Chris for my radio show.

But it's around, I've read, $20 million a year starting to be a sponsor?

JARRETT: Yes, I think — I don't know the exact figures. I'll let Robert Yates take care of all of that. Yes, I mean, total package, that's what's you're going to have to...

HANNITY: Serious money.

JARRETT: Yes, we spend — I do know that we spend over $20 million on each of our teams. We have two teams at Robert Yates Racing (search), with Elliot Sadler (search) and M&Ms (search). And so, yes, that's the kind of dollars you're looking at.

MCMURRAY: Yes, same thing for our team. I don't know that necessarily the primary sponsors spend up to $20 million, but by the time you get all the associate sponsors and all of that, I think it adds up close to it.

HANNITY: Yes, and a minor sponsor would be about $11 million.

JARRETT: You can get — most of the associates that come along, I mean, like we will have Coca-Cola, City Financial — I get (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I appreciate you doing that.

(LAUGHTER)

JARRETT: ... Ford Motor Company. But you know, it only costs each of those...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: How much would it cost for a little “Hannity & Colmes”...

MCMURRAY: I might just to do you a favor.

HANNITY: Put it on there as a favor?!

Let's talk a little bit. One of the things some people don't know, you can't go full bore here. You've got, I guess, this would be the equivalent of putting a governor on my little moped when I was a kid, but you restrictor plates so each car is basically — cannot go — explain it...

JARRETT: Yes, I mean, unrestricted where we have close to 850- horsepower, we would be running 225 miles an hour here. And that can't happen, because there's a lift point of these cars when they get sideways that they're going to lift off the ground. And the possibility of us joining the fans in the grandstands is not a good idea. And so obviously we can't have that. For safety reasons, this restrict us. I don't even know the exact size. But it's about the size of a quarter. And so it cuts about 400-horsepower out of it.

HANNITY: Does it really? And it makes it, I guess, more competitive? That's why that pole position is so important?

JARRETT: Oh, wow. Yes, it's important, but we're going to be in a pack on Sunday of 43 cars that you can't get away from each other, two and three wide. It's incredible racing to watch.

HANNITY: It is.

JARRETT: It's pretty gut-wrenching where we're sitting.

MCMURRAY: It's mentally draining as a driver.

HANNITY: When you think of, like, what happened in 2001, Dale Earnhardt (search). You know, do you ever think this, God forbid, something like that could happen to you?

MCMURRAY: You know what? It has come a long ways. NASCAR really has...

HANNITY: It's only four years.

MCMURRAY: ... stepped up with the safer barriers that we have on the walls now. And I'm one of the few guys right now that uses a carbon fiber seat. Safety has come a long ways in our sport in the last four years.

HANNITY: In four years? Just because of that?

(CROSSTALK)

JARRETT: That was the determining factor, yes, of moving that quickly. I mean, whenever — I mean, you have to look around. Did I ever think about that before? No. But whenever, you know, our superstar — when our Superman gets taken from us, then you have to look around and say, hey, it could happen to any of us. And NASCAR moved quickly. The HANS device is probably the key thing.

HANNITY: That's the neck and...

JARRETT: Yes, the head-neck restraint system. And that's probably the best thing...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: So I went near the cars today and one of the things — and we'll show this later on — it was amazing to me. You get in the car. You sit in the car. The helmet is to your right and you put it on. It's already in there, correct?

JARRETT: And then you can't move. We have headrests now that are right there. I mean, you literally can't move much.

HANNITY: What's it like when you're in there for such a long period of time?

JARRETT: Well, I mean, the seats are made to fit us, and so we get them, you know, where we're comfortable. We're going to be there for three and a half or four hours.

HANNITY: Yes, that's pretty tough. And is it the hard part — like, for example, for me to do well in the sports I play, it's about concentration. Is that what it's about for you?

JARRETT: Yes, you have to do that.

MCMURRAY: I think so. And this is probably one of the worst, or hardest, racetracks to concentrate, because you're so close you don't really have time to have a breather. And they made the fuel cells half the size two or three years ago, and that was great for the drivers because you got to make a pit stop and have time to think and take a little bit of a break if it was a green flag stop.

So this is the most — here and Talladega (search) are by far the most mentally draining racetracks that we run on.

HANNITY: One of the other things, too, is there's a lot of money. There's $17 million going to be won out there on this weekend. That's serious money. Even if you come in last, I think you get $250,000.

JARRETT: Yes, I mean, it's the best paying race we have. It's our biggest race. But I think each of us, and don't tell our owners this, but, you know, we would take that trophy for — I mean, I have been fortunate. And Jamie will win his share of Daytona 500s, I mean, it's the greatest thrill that there is.

HANNITY: You know, the way you say that, it's like — even though you're competitors, you pull for each other. You talk about, you know, Dale Earnhardt as like he is one of your best friends and...

JARRETT: Yes, I mean, our sport's a little different because we see each other every weekend. It's not like baseball where they might play a series for a weekend and then they don't play that team again for two months, you know. Thirty six weekends, we're all together. So, you know, you obviously have people you're closer to, and you would like to see do better than others. But it's a competition.

HANNITY: And there are some that you probably don't get along with at all. I want to know those names. Come on. Let's go. Give them up.

JARRETT: Go ahead, Jamie.

MCMURRAY: But you know what? I think it's a deal where, if I'm racing D.J., I want beat him. And if I don't, I'm mad. But if it's a deal where you fall out of the race, and I see him win, he is my friend and I'm genuinely happy for the guy. But, you know, if you're racing...

HANNITY: You still want to win. I mean, I'm competitive. I play my wife in tennis. I really want to beat her. You know, no, I'm teasing...

JARRETT: I'm like that at home playing Monopoly with my kids. I want to win.

HANNITY: But, listen, I'm assuming you guys are coming in one and two, so I got a “Hannity & Colmes” t-shirt. And know you're going to be wearing them for good luck, one for each of you. One fell down here. I'll give you that, Jamie, in a second.

But, listen, all of the best to you. Congratulations. And we really appreciate you all coming on the show and being here with us. And when I told people you were on the show tonight, they went nuts. You guys are rock stars here.

JARRETT: I don't know about us, but I know that everybody was excited that we were having that opportunity. We appreciate that.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Best of luck to you guys. Thank you all for coming.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMURRAY: Thank you.

HANNITY: We will be watching you.

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