JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) NOTE: McMurray, a 28-year-old driver from Joplin, Mo., has finished fifth and sixth in the past two races and jumped from 15th to eighth in the series standings. McMurray is only 50 points...
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)
NOTE: McMurray, a 28-year-old driver from Joplin, Mo., has finished fifth and sixth in the past two races and jumped from 15th to eighth in the series standings. McMurray is only 50 points out of fifth place entering Saturday night's race at Richmond. In four starts at Richmond, McMurray has one top 10, a ninth-place finish last September at the .750-mile D-shaped track. McMurray's sixth-place finish at Darlington put him over the $10 million mark in career winnings in only 88 starts. He has one victory and 42 top 10 career finishes.
COMMENT ON DARLINGTON
"Darlington was a little bit of a surprise to everybody on how loose the cars were. I spoke with Kasey Kahne and some of the other drivers on Sunday out at the lake and we all were talking about how loose we were and we haven't really experienced that anywhere else this year. It seems like we've been able to keep the car tight enough at times. The whole race we kept tightening the car up and made huge adjustments that we thought would be going too far at the time, but we never really got the car tight enough. That was a different race for us other than just trying to get the balance of the car right."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RICHMOND?
"I've run well in the Busch car there, a lot better in the Busch car than I have in the Cup car. We actually should have run better than that last year and broke a valve spring with 10 or 15 laps to go. We just tested there last week and had a great test. I'm really looking forward to going back."
COMMENT ON QUALIFYING
"I enjoy 13th because every time we've qualified 13th (Atlanta, Talladega and Darlington) we've raced really well. No one is really superstitious on our team, but I feel like when we qualify 13th it's going to be a good weekend for us. I would like to qualify better, but we don't focus on qualifying too much. I don't get too excited when we don't qualify well."
IS THAT AN ADVANTAGE FOR RACING ON SATURDAY NIGHT, GETTING TO HANG OUT WITH THE GUYS AT THE LAKE ON SUNDAY?
"Yeah, I had a great time. I went out with some of the other drivers and we all hung out at the lake. I actually didn't get up until about 2 o'clock. I'd been a little bit sick. I didn't get home until 3 a.m., so I slept in. I didn't make it to the lake until about 4, but we went out and had a blast hanging out on Sunday. It kinda felt like a weekend off almost."
HAS THE TEAM TURNED IT AROUND IN THE LAST TWO RACES?
"It sounds great, but the points are so tight right now if you had a bad race you could lose it all in one weekend. We've either run really well or struggled this year, but we're taking a different car to Richmond. I'd like to go into more detail about that if I could, but I can't. I really feel like we're stepping in the right direction this weekend, so it's going to be interesting to see how everything works out."
COMMENT ON NIGHT RACING
"I guess if you make it better on one end it's worse on the other. At Darlington, the sun is so bad that it was nice. I wish we could have started it later, but I wish the race was 100 miles shorter, too. If we had ended it at 400 miles, I think the outcome would have been very similar. That's a long race. I think it's four and a half hours to run 500 miles at Darlington. I guess that's why it ran so late, but I enjoy the night races. I also enjoy day races. It's really great we get to run on little race tracks and big race tracks and race at day and night. If we had to do the same thing every week it would get old. I think night races add some excitement. It seems like there's more activity on the racetrack at night and when you see sparks come out of the cars... There's a lot of excitement that happens at night, so I like to have a little bit of everything."
WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGE HAS IT BEEN TRYING TO CATCH ROUSH AND HENDRICK CARS THIS SEASON?
"They have really good teams anyway, but they have really hit on it this year. I don't know the percentage of races they've won (90 percent), but they have some of the best equipment and some of the best drivers in our sport, and they also have a total of nine teams. It's up and down. I remember when I came to Ganassi in 2002, Sterling had led the points pretty much all year and I remember watching those races. It seemed like it didn't matter where Sterling started. He had a shot to win the race, so that's just the way our sport is. There are ups and downs and right now the Roush and Hendrick cars are on top. All these race teams work real hard, and I know our race team is working exceptionally hard right now to get better. We feel like the next few months a lot of big improvements are going to happen at our place and hopefully by the end of the season you guys will be saying that about our team. Those guys are running so well. It's hard to beat people when they've got all the momentum they've got on their side and they're running as well as they are."
WILL THE NEXT TWO WEEKS OFFER A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAMMATES TO BREAK THROUGH?
"We had a great test at Richmond. We felt like we were one of the best cars, and a lot of cars were testing there. For our team, I feel real good about going to Richmond. We ran well at Texas, and Casey (teammate Mears) tested there (Charlotte) and felt like they had a great test there. The Roush and Hendrick cars have been really good on the mile and a half tracks, so you never really know. All of these mile and a half tracks are different. Charlotte is different than Texas and Atlanta is different, but everybody wants to run well there and a lot of teams have tested at Charlotte. It'll be hard to say until we actually get to the race on how everyone will run there. Richmond is different. It's a short track, and I think you'll see the same guys run well there, but it's kinda like Bristol. You never know who's going to win a race on a short track."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF GREG BIFFLE AS A DRIVER?
"I've raced with Greg since the truck series. People joke around in the garage about Greg's a little bit wild. He has a lot of drive and is very confident in himself. They just always have the car on the edge. He's always been fast, and this year they've been able to put the speed with the finishes. He's run well the last couple of years. At times he's had an incredibly fast car and hasn't been able to put the finishes together. This year they have. You see that in racing a lot. When things are going well for a driver and team it seems like they can't mess up. Greg gets in a Busch car or whatever he gets in right now, he has a shot to win. When guys get on top, it's tough to beat them. Right now, when Greg gets in anything he thinks he can win and he can back that up on the racetrack right now."
DO YOU THINK BIFFLE HAS IMPROVED AS A DRIVER?
"I think he's definitely become smarter. To win a Busch race is not as big of a challenge as it is to win a Cup race. In Cup races people get faster as the race goes on and have more time to work on the car and unlimited tires and pit stops. You also have twice as long to mess up as a driver, so Greg has definitely gotten better at that. I heard him talk on TV last night about Darlington and letting a couple of guys go and saving his tires until the end. I don't think a couple of years ago or last year even that Greg would have done that. It always seemed like he was wide open and obviously he has become sharper and it's showing in his results."
DO YOU KEEP UP WITH THE POINT STANDINGS EVERY WEEK?
"I pay attention to it. When you get to the racetrack every week you line up by points and you see who is around you. Typically at this point in the season you can't do five or six spots in one week, but you can right now. It looks like to me that 15 drivers and when it comes to Richmond again that five or six drivers are going to be really close at making the championship. I'd like to see all 15 get in. I guess by being the first guy out last year it was very frustrating, but it's really tight. I think a lot of that comes from guys having seasons like ours where you show up and run in the top five and the next week... It's really tricky this year. You might struggle one weekend. It's hard to be consistent this year with the new spoilers and tires. If you're a little bit off this year you're a long way off. The margin of getting your car right or the window for that is narrower than ever."
COMMENT ON YOUR COMMENT ABOUT NOT CARING ABOUT QUALIFYING
"When you hear guys say they don't care about qualifying it's because they're not good qualifiers. That's the truth. We don't show up and work on qualifying. Honestly some of our best qualifying efforts have come by now trying at it. I worry so much about getting my car right for the race. If you focus on qualifying you don't get as much time to work on it. If it's going to rain the next day, you just don't know. Matt (Kenseth) and Bobby (Labonte) are having seasons where they could sit on the pole and something would happen to them freak. Those guys are having terrible, terrible seasons and just haven't had any luck on their sides. If you look at Matt's history the past few years he's never qualified well but always seems to make it happen through the race. It's just not something our team focuses on a lot."
ANYTHING SPECIFIC TO WATCH FOR AT RICHMOND?
"The racetrack is very smooth and a lot of grip still. I'm kind of hoping that since it was paved last year the bottom groove will wear out a little bit this year and you'll be able to run up high and pass guys. I think we found that a little bit even last year. It's a great racetrack. I haven't run well there, but it's one of my favorite racetracks to go to. It's very challenging. It's a cross between a short track and something like Rockingham. It's a fun track to race at."
DO YOU HAVE A RACE STRATEGY?
"I guess the strategy is to race people like you'd want to be raced. It's tough for me to say. I think everyone has their own characteristics of the way they race. It's not something I necessarily think about. It just happens. Fortunately I've had guys over the years say they appreciate it, that I race when I need to and if I don't have a car capable of running well that I don't push the issue. I guess that's just the way I am, but I don't consciously think about it."
DO YOU HAVE A PRE-RACE ROUTINE?
"I like to be alone before the race and hang out in my motor home. In the last couple of years I've learned that what you eat before a race, I don't know that it necessarily helps you drive but there's nothing worse than getting to the car and feeling tired or fatigued or hungry. It takes a lot of energy for four and a half hours at Darlington, so I've kinda got a routine of what I need and try to eat right and try to eat all the right stuff just to make sure I don't get tired or fatigued throughout the race."
COMMENT ON THE PROGRESS WITH THE DODGE CHARGER
"I don't know if you ever get your car exactly where you want it to be. It's a constant battle of changing the aero package on the car to make it like you want it. The car is running good. Running second at Texas and running well at Darlington, those are places where aero is huge. The cars are good. We just have got to get everything else ticking. The teams have had chances to win races through the year. It just hasn't worked out. The Roush and Hendrick cars are really on top of their game, so it's a constant battle to make the car better. I think right now Chargers are capable of winning. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays out the next few weeks."