Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, March 1, 2005 California Recap, Mexico, Las Vegas advance JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) NOTE: McMurray, a 28-year-old driver from Joplin, Mo., finished fourth Sunday in the...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, March 1, 2005
California Recap, Mexico, Las Vegas advance
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)
NOTE: McMurray, a 28-year-old driver from Joplin, Mo., finished fourth Sunday in the Auto Club 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at California Speedway to lead the way for the Dodge Chargers. McMurray ranks 17th in the series standings after the first two races heading into the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 on March 13 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He will also compete in Sunday's Busch race in Mexico City.
COMMENT ON YOUR RUN AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY
"We tested at California a few days a month or so ago and really struggled. I wasn't looking forward to going back at all. We came back with somewhat of a different setup and in the Friday practice struggled again. The car reacted the same way. We went back after practice on Friday and went over notes from the last couple of seasons. After that the car was great. I feel somewhat lucky and fortunate that we ran as well as we did."
OUTLOOK FOR MEXICO
"I'm as excited to go to Mexico as I have been for any race. I really enjoy going to the road courses and we've got a great car. Chip has built a new car to go down there, and Scott Pruett tested it last week and said it was great. I'm really looking forward to going down there. It's my Cup team from Donnie (crew chief Wingo) to the pit crew. I'm pretty sure all of them are going down there. They went in and told the guys they didn't have to go, but they gave my team first choice. I think every single one of them signed up to go. It's going to be a lot of fun for us. It won't be as stressful as a typical race weekend and it's going to be fun. Havoline and Chevron Texaco is sponsoring the car. It's going to look just like my Cup car. It's going to have a few small changes, but it's the same number and I think it's going to be cool to see that in a Busch race."
COMMENT ON THE NEW SPOILER PACKAGE AT CALIFORNIA
"I was the guy at the beginning of the year that said it wasn't going to be that big of a deal. In the race I'd never seen so many guys... a couple of guys did lose it. You'd catch guys and you'd try to turn down underneath them and you just couldn't. The back of the car would break loose. If I hadn't run the Busch race on Saturday then I wouldn't be thinking the way I am, but the Busch cars drove so much better. It was more fun to drive the Busch cars. They just had so much more grip, and I thought it was easier to pass with more grip. California is a racetrack where you can typically run out against the wall and run a high side or a low side. If you didn't run the white line you were just in the way, so we'll just have to see how it goes, but after California I wasn't a very big fan of the spoiler."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT'S SOMETHING YOU COULD GET USED TO? HOW DID YOU POWER THROUGH IT?
"When the race started and we were as good as we were it made me feel so good to be with the race team I'm with. It's just like last year. There were numerous races during practice that we didn't feel very good about our car, but when the race started we made the right changes to it and as the race went on we kept getting better. I guess it shows that our team is that strong, taking a car that you don't think is very good and running in the top five with it. It's very encouraging for the rest of the season."
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO BE LIKE IN MEXICO THIS WEEKEND?
"I don't really know if it's dangerous or it's not. I'm really not worried about it. I've been told to use some common sense. I'm going to stick with the crowd. I'm not 100 percent sure on this, but I believe NASCAR has got some security for us while we're there. I'm just going hang out with the group of guys I'm going with and not venture out on my own. I'm really not all that worried about sight seeing. Obviously when we go to the races we go to race. We don't go sight seeing when we go anywhere else, so I don't see that being something we're going to do. It's not something I'm really worried about."
WHAT DO YOU MISS THE MOST WHEN YOU'RE NOT AT THE TRACK?
"That's probably the reason I wanted to run Mexico, and I'm also going to run Nashville in Rusty's Busch car. When the season gets started you don't want a break that early on. You've already had a couple of months off and I like getting into a routine. When you have a weekend off, sometimes you need it just to rest, but as early as it is in the season right now you want to stay in a routine and keep racing. For me, I guess it's just the routine I miss."
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BEST TIME OFF?
"Tuesday. You get Monday to rest and then if you get Tuesday off you just kind of enjoy yourself. When you're used to going so much it's hard sometimes just to sit down and relax. I don't do a whole lot of that. I usually relax when I'm sick."
HOW WILL YOUR SCHEDULE BE DIFFERENT THIS WEEKEND?
"I'm actually flying down with Rusty. Bombardier is giving them a big jet to take down there. Rusty and I and some other guys are going to fly down, and Bell Helicopter is Rusty's sponsor on his Busch car this week, so Bell Helicopter is going to helicopter us everywhere we need to go -- back and forth from the hotel to the racetrack, so it's not a lot different from normal. I guess the biggest difference was obviously having to go get a passport and it's going to be a little different racing outside the United States. I've only been outside the United States a couple of times. I went to Moscow in 1989 to race go-karts and this time. It's hard to explain to you guys what to expect because I don't know 100 percent what to expect."
COMMENT ON DODGE GRILLE
"It's going to be an issue all year long. I believe the reason they put that straight up is because it flows more air. That's the up side. The down side is it catches a lot of debris. We struggled with it a little bit in the Busch race on Saturday, but California is the worst racetrack for debris. I don't know why. I don't know if it's because it's so windy out there or what, but I remember last year they threw a caution and sent people out to pick up all the wrappers that were on the racetrack. I think California may be the worst. It didn't matter last year if you had a Dodge, Chevy or a Ford because they were all getting clogged up. I think the Dodge teams are really going to have to look at their tape configurations. We ran a completely different tape configuration in the race from what we tested because we were really worried about that. Another thing is you can see the paper on the track. Sometimes you can avoid it and sometimes you can't. A lot of times you pick it up under caution. You can't avoid it. You've got to be careful about that."
COMMENT ON YOUR PIT CREW
"I honestly feel like right now I have one of the three or four best pit crews in Nextel Cup. I was shocked, just excited at how good the pit crew was on Sunday. We gained spots literally every single time. They have done an incredible job. Last year I would dread when the cautions came out. On Sunday at California I was excited because I knew they were going to gain me a couple of spots. We've really picked up in that area."
COMMENT ON UPCOMING LAS VEGAS RACE
"We didn't have a very good test there, either. Fontana and Vegas testing went terrible for us, but I think we learned some stuff at California that we can apply at Vegas. It's a great racetrack. It's the best racetrack as far as the town we get to go to on our schedule. I'm really looking forward to getting to Vegas. I think I ran fourth last year. We thought we had something that could win last year at Vegas, but I hit the wall with something like 100 laps to go and the car didn't drive as well after that, but we still finished in the top five. Usually when guys run well at California they run well at Vegas."
COMMENT ON HANDLING OF THE ROUSH CARS
"Greg Biffle had the fastest car at California and he won Michigan, so they always seem to run well at those racetracks. It seems to me like they're working together as a team more. All their cars were fast on Sunday. The Roush cars, the Yates cars, the Hendrick cars, their engines are incredible. Those guys have so much power, I don't know if they have to work on their cars as hard as everyone else does."
COMMENT ON UPCOMING RACE AT DARLINGTON
"Darlington is one of my favorite racetracks. I've run really well there in the Busch car and we've run great in a Cup car there, too. We're probably not going to be racing there in a few years, so it's a racetrack that I think everyone has wanted to win at for years. I'd certainly like to put my name on that (trophy) before we stop going there."
DO YOU THINK DARLINGTON WILL GO AWAY?
"I think Darlington and Rockingham are two of my favorite racetracks and they put on two of the best shows we have. As far as racing goes, both of those racetracks are great. Let me say this because I don't know. I hope we always go to Darlington because it's one of my favorite tracks and it's a great place to race. They've already taken a race away from it. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything there because I truly don't know, but I'll just say I hope we always go there."