Jamie McMurray: "From my perspective I kind of thought it was a no brainer to just let us cool the engines down."
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed his thoughts on the No. 1 Chevrolet SS teams season thus far, the new qualifying procedure and other topics.
OFF TO A GREAT START OF THE SEASON TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS COMING INTO LAS VEGAS: “Yeah it’s been a really good start to the season. I’m happy with our car today. I think coming to the first mile and a half that is such a critical size track to be able to run well at that I thought our testing went well yesterday and then we were really good in qualifying trim today in practice. I’m a little bit nervous about qualifying. We haven’t done the three segments yet. I thought Phoenix was fairly straight forward on the strategy you would use. Today is going to be different. It’s been a good start to the season and happy with the performance of the car.”
Especially Turn 1 there is not really an apron to get out of the way, but we knew here the track is fairly wide and you would be able to cool the cars down. From my perspective I kind of thought it was a no brainer to just let us cool the engines down. I know that there is a reason they are not letting us do that, but he said let’s give it a couple of weeks and just see what plays out. I don’t know that they have had people come to them and say that they didn’t want to use cool down units because everyone I talked to felt fairly adamant that would be a good change.
“But I think they are just wanting to let it play out especially we haven’t done a mile and a half yet to see kind of how it works. This is another really good track for this qualifying procedure because you can go quicker on your second run if you make the car better. There are going to be some tracks come up that you can’t, but like Phoenix last week and here scuff tires actually are as good if not better than sticker tires are.
I think you will see that today where if guys don’t make it in the first time, if they can get their car cooled off enough that you could go quicker the second time out. It’s just that tape is so critical here. If you have to take tape off to keep the car cool enough you are not going to go faster. I think it would be more exciting if we could have full tape every time so you guarantee the chance of trying to knock somebody out.”
COULD YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECT IN TERMS OF THIS PACKAGE ON THIS TRACK AND HOW MUCH YOU ARE GOING TO PUT INTO HOW THE RACING GOES DOWN TODAY ARE YOU STILL IN A WAIT AND SEE MODE? “I don’t expect the racing to be dramatically different. It’s really hard to evaluate it right now because in the testing that we did yesterday and the little bit of practice we had this morning everyone is on good tires. If your car doesn’t handle good you just pull in and work on it. You never really get a chance to catch anyone.
I was a little shocked that in testing yesterday that really the bottom of the race track was the preferred line. Normally it’s that way here until it rubbers up a little bit and then you see guys starting to move up. Especially in (turns) one and two to get around the bumps, but yesterday we didn’t see that. It seemed like all the guys that were quick could stay right on the bottom and you could do that for 15 or 20 laps in a row, which was somewhat unique. I think until we get into tomorrow where it warms up and you have guys that stay out and a group of guys that stay out and run 15 or 20 laps at a time it would be hard to really give any type of an evaluation of what we are going to have.”
CONSIDERING THE YEAR THAT YOU WON THE DAYTONA 500 AND THE BRICKYARD WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON THE CHASE RULES NOW AND HOW THAT WOULD HAVE HELPED YOU: “That would have been great in 2010 for sure. My take is that it will be more exciting to watch. I think it’s great that if you win a race that you kind of punch your ticket and you are guaranteed into the Chase. From a general fans perspective I think that if you win you should be in the Chase. I like it. It’s going to be interesting when they start knocking people out after three races.
Especially if you have somebody that dominated the first part of the season and then they don’t make it through. It’s going to be interesting to go to the last race and have somebody that is going to win the championship based on just that race. It’s different and when we went from running every single week to having a 10 race playoff format no one liked that and I think it turned out to be really good. I think it’s tough to give an opinion until you see how it plays out.”
FOR YOU AS A DRIVER UNDER THIS NEW FORMAT WHEN DOES A SENSE OF URGENCY REALLY START TO SET IN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WIN? “I think that all depends on where you are in points. Because there are going to be people that make the Chase that haven’t won a race. Clint Bowyer kind of comes to mind last year. I think he was second or third in points when we got to Richmond and he hadn’t won a race yet.
So there are going to be some people that make it in. I don’t know when we get down to the two or three races leading into Richmond guys that know they have no chance of making it in on points. Yeah, it might even be 10 guys that don’t have a chance of making it in on points. If they win a race to be guaranteed in I think you will see it fire up at that point.”
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ABOUT THE NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE HERE AT LAS VEGAS? “I won’t lie I’m a little bit nervous about qualifying today. It’s so much different than just trying to get the best set-up in the car and go out and run that one lap all by yourself and you know you are going to get clean air. There are so many more factors now where someone could pull out in front of you or if the people are cooling down their engines could get in your way and mess your lap up. I think most of the teams approach qualifying the same way.
We were fourth in practice so we feel really confident that unless something goes wrong you are going to make the first segment. We are not panicked to get out initially, but if someone gets in your way and messes that lap up then it creates panic. There are a lot of unknowns and I think until we do this a few times and you understand it better it’s a little nerve racking.
Which I think is good because the excitement of qualifying before was when you would come somewhere like this was how much throttle could use and it was exciting to run that fast just one lap. But now there is so much strategy in it and if you make it through the adjustments you make to your car because it’s going to drive different on hot old tires versus what it does on new tires. It definitely has all the teams trying to figure out what the next trick will be.”