CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Fujifilm Dodge Charger) NOTE: Mears wrecked his primary Dodge Charger early in the first practice session and was forced to go to a backup car. "I'm not sure what happened, but something happened to the right front tire...
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Fujifilm Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Mears wrecked his primary Dodge Charger early in the first practice session and was forced to go to a backup car.
"I'm not sure what happened, but something happened to the right front tire coming out of the third turn. The primary car is pretty used up, so we're going to go to a backup. I've never raced this car before, but I've tested it a bunch and never liked it. I guess it'll get a real test now, and it's too bad because our primary car was going to be a good one. I don't know what's going on. It seems like we can't get a break. Something is always happened before we can get started. We need to get this monkey off our backs somehow. We had a real good run here last year, and we were looking for another one on Sunday. We'll go to work and get the car as good as we can and see what happens. I really like these high-speed tracks, and Texas is one of those for sure. I think we're going to be OK. We just need a break or two along the way."
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texas/Havoline Dodge Charger)
"We brought the same car we raced at California, Vegas and Atlanta. We ran fourth at California, not well at Vegas and 11th at Atlanta. We're not struggling, but like a lot of the other teams, we're just trying to figure out what the bodies need to look like this year. The templates are the same, but you can change the shape of the bodies so much that we went back and cut everything off but the roof and reshaped everything. We went back and tested at Kentucky last week and we think we've got a really good car. We'll wait and see how things go.
"I've finished in the top 10 here in both races, but we had a top 20 car. We've had good pit strategy and got our car good for the long runs. We really haven't run that well here, but I really enjoy coming here. It's a really cool track for the fans. I went out to my souvenir trailer and it was packed yesterday during Busch qualifying. The fans here are incredible.
"This time last year we couldn't do what we're doing now because we were moving into a new building. We were moving surface plates, and there wasn't any time to do this. I was really excited after Atlanta, and Donnie (crew chief Wingo) said we had to take the car back and cut everything off it. He said he had some good ideas, and he'd been watching everything other teams do. Basically he took all the ideas and put it on this car. I'm excited to get in the car and see how it runs. You see guys using different spring combinations. It's like the big springs have kinda gone away. It seems like a 1200 is a big spring now and last year I was running a 2000 at Kansas. The setup thing is a constant chase your tail trying to figure out what you need.
"The Roush and Hendrick cars are obviously the best cars out there right now. Jeff won at Martinsville because obviously he's awesome there, but I think you saw some of the Hendrick and Roush cars when we got to tracks that weren't necessarily aero, they didn't run as well. At these racetracks, you've got to be a great driver, but you've got to have a car that's capable of doing it. I won Charlotte and I definitely wasn't the best driver at the time, but I definitely had one of the best cars. Those guys have their act together right now. It's just like everything else. It's a big wheel and right now everybody else is trying to catch up. Those guys are on top, but I really don't think we're that far off.
"At Bristol I was running fourth and had a flat tire. At Martinsville last week, I had another flat tire. At those racetracks if you have a flat tire you lose three laps. You lose three laps, and unless you have a car like Jeff Gordon's, you can't make it up. You can't make up three laps. You get down, and then we got in that wreck at Bristol and at Martinsville we just ran around the rest of the day. Last year when I had all the top 10 finishes, if we had tire trouble, someone would blow a tire out right when we were getting ready to pit. This year, we're the guy blowing the tire, bringing out the caution for everybody else. There's a lot of luck that goes with this. It's not necessarily luck you can make for yourself.
"We went to Goodyear and showed them our tires. They always blame it on camber and air pressure. The guy told Andy (team manager Graves) that it wasn't camber or air pressure. There's nothing we can do as a team to help our problem. We've just got to keep digging.
"This winter I was probably more optimistic than I am now. I don't feel like we're that far off. At the short tracks I feel like we're as good as any other race team. We have some work to do. We've blamed it on engines forever. We went and did the engine dyno test at Atlanta and had the best engine there. Now we can look at something else. We feel like our engines are good now. Now we've got a new body style. It's one of those deals that is very frustrating. I really wish there was something I could point a finger at and say that's something we need to fix. I felt like our pit crew was a problem last year. They fixed that and now we've got a good pit crew. It's hard for me to say. I don't think there's necessarily one thing we need to improve on right now. Racing is all about momentum. When you start running well, it happens easy for you. Right now we're running well, but it's frustrating because you have a flat tire and finish 25th again. I felt like when I showed up this weekend I could win the race if everything goes well. That's kind of the mentality I had all year long and all last year. Even though you don't win, you come with that same mentality. I do. If I didn't, I would go find something else to do.
"Qualifying is not my deal. I don't worry about qualifying. When we qualify well, everybody is excited. When we don't, I don't really worry about that. I think Matt Kenseth has proved over the years that qualifying is irrelevant. No matter where you are, if you don't qualify well, you use pit strategy to get up front. Today, the majority of these cars will go out and practice in qualifying trim for two hours. We'll go out and practice in race trim for an hour and 45 minutes, come in and make one qualifying run. It's not something we focus on. I hate qualifying. I wish they would draw or start by points. I don't care what they do. I think qualifying is one of the most overrated things in racing. It's something that's even boring to watch. It's just part of it. I'm not a bad qualifier. I just don't focus on it. I've got a pole in all three series, but we just don't focus on it. For us, racing is so much more important than qualifying. Even at a place like this where it's hard to pass, if you get your car right you can do it. Ryan Newman, I'm not knocking off on him, but the guy's been on the pole how many times and at Atlanta he got lapped. I think it just shows that qualifying is not that important, at least not to me."