FORD RACING Preseason Thunder Daytona International Speedway January 15, 2008 Roush Fenway Racing teammates Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, and David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session to...
Daytona International Speedway
January 15, 2008
Roush Fenway Racing teammates Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, and David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session to discuss how they spent their off-season and what their goals are for the 2008 season.
HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR?
DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion: "Today was pretty uneventful, which is a good thing for testing here at Daytona. Our AAA Ford Fusion had average speed. We'd always like to be a little faster, but we know the few small things we can do when it gets time for qualifying for the 500, but so far so good. We're just working on qualifying runs and trying to find a few tenths and a few hundredths here and there. It was a little boring throughout the day, but we'll get kind of a jump start tomorrow and get a few runs in in the morning and, for the most part, we come down to get our cars driving good in the draft. That's what really matters. It's cool to be fast by yourself, but if you can have a good handling car for the duration of the 500 miles, that means a lot. So that's what we'll continue to work on, but so far so good and I feel very comfortable about two of our Fords."
HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR?
JAMIE MCMURRAY -- No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion: "It went pretty fast for me today. A lot of times you dread coming down here to do the single-car stuff, but it went pretty quick for us today. Larry (Carter) had a pretty good test plan. We just went through the list that he had and the part that makes this boring or drag on is when you make changes to your car and you don't ever go faster, or you stay the same speed, or you go slower. Our plan today worked pretty good because everytime we went out we kept going quicker, so that's encouraging and it makes you want to go back out for the next time. So today went pretty quick and I look forward to being able to get out in the draft. It looks like we've got quite a few cars here. I don't know how many cars were here for the last test, but it seems that there are quite a few cars here this time, so, hopefully, we can get some fairly large packs, and talking with Matt and Greg and some of the other guys that were here at the last test, they said the cars didn't drive very good, which I was encouraged by because at Talladega you ride around and even though it's a good race for the fans with the passing, it's fairly boring until you get to the last couple of laps. But Daytona has always been about making your car handle and it's so important here to get a car that's comfortable and I look forward to working on that tomorrow."
YOU WON THE LAST CUP RACE AT THIS TRACK. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO COME BACK AND WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THE 500 NEXT MONTH?
JAMIE MCMURRAY: "I've been asked this a few times because I came and raced my go-kart here three or four weeks ago. Coming back here for the go-kart races, it's kind of weird when you pull in here because there's nothing in here with the exception of the go-kart trailers, which you don't even really see anything. So it's a different perspective and a different view. Daytona is really special. Whether you've ever won here or not, it's the track that everybody wants to win at in our sport and certainly the Daytona 500 is a big race and to say that you won the 50th Anniversary of the Daytona 500, I don't know if that makes it more special, you just want to win the next one. It doesn't really matter what the year is for it, but that would be cool."
HOW TEDIOUS IS TESTING AND HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM FALLING ASLEEP?
JAMIE MCMURRAY: "It was different a few years ago because we used to do two-and-a-half days of single-car runs and the first day is never that bad because you hit on the big things that you know are gonna make a difference. By the end of the second day it's not so much and by the third morning it's pretty boring and everybody is just waiting to go do drafting. But the way it is now with the car of tomorrow, you're so limited. We used to change the cowls and you'd see if one cowl would suck up better in the draft and how it would run by itself, and you had so many other adjustments you could make to the car. With the car of tomorrow, there's not that much you can do to it. It's pretty minimal the changes you can make, so it's a little bit different than what we've had in the past year."
DAVID RAGAN: "Plus NASCAR regulates a lot more things at Daytona and Talladega than they do at an Atlanta or Charlotte, so that restricts several things that you can change that normally you'd be able to."
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF AMUSED DURING ALL OF THIS?
DAVID RAGAN: "You're always trying to go faster so the crew chief changes a couple of small things and you go back out and if you pick up a tenth, we have an on board telemetry system where we can see our lap times and stuff, so that's pretty cool to see how fast you're gonna go or if it feels like you went any faster, but you're always just thinking in the back of your mind if there is any small thing that you could change to go a little quicker. I'm always paying close attention to the lap times out on the race track."
DO YOU KNOW AT WHAT POINT YOU PICKED UP FROM YOUR TEAMMATES LAST WEEK?
DAVID RAGAN: "I don't really know exactly, but our teammates coming down last week certainly gave us some good input of maybe not what to do as far as some of the things they tried that absolutely wasn't good so we wouldn't waste our time. But some thing that may be good for Jamie might not really work good for my car, so it all just depends. Sometimes it's all about a combination of how things fit on a car, so probably the biggest thing we used from our teammates here last week is just things that absolutely didn't work that were kind of out of the ballpark. We don't even waste our time with doing things like that. We're always trying to do something fresh and find a few tenths here and there."
HAVE YOU MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY CONTINUED WORKING OUT DURING THE OFF SEASON?
JAMIE MCMURRAY: "I was kind of glad to get down here because I hired a trainer and whenever you don't get to race on the weekend -- I never really had a trainer, but I realized that the training gets harder. I was looking forward to coming to Daytona because I knew I didn't have to work out today. It was certainly a long winter, but I couldn't believe. I mean, everyone thinks that they're in shape and I have just been amazed at how much my strength has built, not necessarily lifting weights, but just in riding the bikes and the rowing machine and running -- just how much faster and longer and how much more energy you have. It's hard to explain to someone what that feels like and I look forward to working out everyday, but I also look forward to coming down here so I didn't have to do it today. I've been really messing with these go-karts lately and karting is something that takes an incredible amount of strength. Your core is what most trainers try to work out for race car drivers and you get in a kart and you don't realize how much strength it takes to race them, so I hope that it makes a difference doing all that. I've noticed it more in my karting than I have in my stock car, but it's been fun for me to get to do that."
IS IT TOO EARLY TO SEE GOOD THINGS IN TESTING TO KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A GOOD SEASON?
DAVID RAGAN: "I don't think so. I think any positive note that you can find we'll try to talk about it and hang on that positive note as long as we can, but it's good to get out. It's been several weeks since any of us have driven anything besides a go-kart or something like that, but anything positive you can find in this first day to try and carry you through the week and move on to Las Vegas is something that may pump the guys up on the team or back at the shop, so I'm sure we'll use anything positive that we can."
JAMIE MCMURRAY: "When you come to Daytona and you do the test, certainly if you're a top three or top five car, you take that and you feel good about it. But this race, by the time we run the 150 races and you do the qualifying, you have the shootout, and they run the 24-hour race, the track is so much different when we come back here that by the time we get here for Sunday on the 500, it really comes down to those last 10 miles and the last five laps and putting yourself in the right position. So I don't know if you can put a lot into what we have here at testing because it is all about single-car runs. Until everybody goes through all the templates and everybody gets the NASCAR restrictor plates, I don't know that you know that everyone is playing on the same field as the rest of the guys."
ARE YOU RUNNING CUP AND NATIONWIDE FULL-TIME THIS YEAR? "
DAVID RAGAN: Yes, I'll be running the Nationwide Discount Tire Ford Fusion this year."
CAN YOU TELL ME THE BENEFITS OF RUNNING BOTH SERIES IS WITH TWO DIFFERENT CARS AND ARE YOU GLAD YOUR ROOKIE YEAR IS OVER?
DAVID RAGAN: "I think the benefits for myself is just more racing, not only more experience for me as a race car driver, but more racing with the guys like Kevin Harvick and Jamie or Carl Edwards -- the guys that race on Saturday and Sunday. The more I race with the veterans and the guys that have been around here for a while, hopefully the more respect I'll get, the better I'll get on restarts. Definitely the cars are very different this year and setups won't carry over, but we will be racing on the same tire. The race tracks are basically the same and, for me, I'm still trying to get on and off pit road as hard as I can and pick up time there. And just as far as getting into the pits and a lot of those small things that guys take for granted that have been doing this for five or six years, this is still just my second or third time doing a green-flag stop at this track or vice versa with restarts or different things. So just more experience for myself as a race car driver. Definitely the cars are very different and we won't carry anything over, but just more racing and seat time for myself, and it's fun. There's a lot of enjoyment. I'm glad my rookie year is over. Hopefully I've learned a lot and made some mistakes, but I look forward to moving on and getting bigger and better."
DOES RACING GO-KARTS RE-CHARGE YOUR BATTERY?
JAMIE MCMURRAY: "I don't know. I've raced karts forever and got away from it, but my dad never really did. I play golf with my dad a little bit and the karting was something else I could do with him. Like anything else, you get competitive so I kind of went and just played with him and then I was like, I think I'd like to race maybe again, so I went and raced. Then I thought, 'I think I'll buy a couple more karts and maybe go do some more.' I don't know that it's good training. I've talked with Jack and he seems to support it as long as I don't get hurt doing it, but, for me, it's a lot of fun. It's fun to go to the races because something I didn't realize about karting is that most of the people that kart are under 16 years old. There are a lot of little kids and it's fun because those little kids come up to you and they look at you and they kind of look at you like you're not really alive. They're like, 'Are you really Jamie.' And I'm like, 'Yeah. This is my name on my suit.' So I got a big kick out of that. It made it fun and when you go back and you do that, I don't know that it makes you appreciate where you are, but all of those people are trying to get where you are and it gave me a little different outlook on what I do everyday. It's probably made me appreciate it a little bit more and it's just fun to go back and see all those little kids and get to hang out and just kind of do what you used to do."
WHAT DOES A GO-KART COST?
JAMIE MCMURRAY: "I would say it's about $7,000 to buy a complete kart with an engine -- like really, really good stuff. I don't know because I've never bought a whole one. Part of the fun for me was to go on the internet and buy random parts and kind of piece something together. That was part of the fun of it, so I haven't bought a whole kart, but I think it's about seven grand to start from scratch."
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE OFF-SEASON AND ARE YOU ANY CLOSER TO GET YOUR PILOT'S LICENSE?
JAMIE MCMURRAY: "Yep. I made my second landing today coming down here. Someone asked if it was a good one and I said, 'Well, I showed up didn't I? I had to be pretty good.' I did a little bit of flying, not as much. I don't really enjoy the flying to go up and just kind of play around, but it's a lot of fun to get in the little plane and like fly here. That's a really good time for me, so I did a little bit of flying. We flew to a couple of kart races and flew to the PRI show that they had in Orlando, so I did a little bit of that. Then Matt and Greg and I, and our wives and girlfriends, we went skiing and whenever we have some more time I'll tell you a story about altitude sickness that's pretty interesting, but not right now. So that was fun and it was fun to get to hang out with Matt and Greg and be away from racing. Greg is just as crazy on a set of skiis as he is in a car. You could put everybody in the same outfit and pick him out on the side of the hill. You're like, 'Man, look at that crazy guy.' And that's Biffle right there, so that was pretty fun. And then just a little bit of karting. I see all these guys go to France and like Junior, I was talking to him about going to Australia, I kind of liked hanging out at home. It was nice. Sundays are kind of cool. The little place I live, they have a buffet on Sunday and I like that. I thought it was kind of fun to just hang out. Everybody went to church and then you went and had the buffet. It seemed like a pretty good combination to me. I wouldn't want to do it every Sunday, but it was fun to do in the off-season."
-credit: ford racing