JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: McMurray was seventh fastest in Wednesday morning's test session at 182.474 mph. Rookie teammate Casey Mears in the No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid was second fastest overall and the fastest...
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid)
NOTE: McMurray was seventh fastest in Wednesday morning's test session at 182.474 mph. Rookie teammate Casey Mears in the No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid was second fastest overall and the fastest Dodge at 182.938 mph.
"The speedway stuff, between the Busch and the Cup really isn't a huge difference. I think they're changing the shocks a little bit on the Busch cars to make them a little more like the Cup cars. The really the Cup cars drive easier to me. It's not quite as big of a handful as the Busch cars were last year. The speedway stuff, it's just really great to get that out of the way and go on and do some testing at some other race tracks.
"We'll just go and do the same stuff we did last year. We'll go out and give 100 percent each week. I think we have the team, the people, the resources at Ganassi to win races and we showed that last year with both Sterling and I. I'm excited about the season. Who wouldn't be? I'm 26, get to drive Winston Cup full-time and have a great sponsor like Havoline.
"It's going to be an extremely tough (rookie) race. With (Greg) Biffle winning rookie of the year in both trucks and Busch and then falling out (of Busch Series) with the championship, I'd say he'd be one of the tougher guys to beat. When I ran trucks, I ran 10 races and really didn't a shot at it. In the Busch car, I really didn't have the experience some of the guys had in the Busch series, so I feel pretty good about this season. I feel we have a little better shot at winning the rookie title this year than we have in the last couple.
"I'm really happy. Getting to be 26 years old and doing something you love... I know everybody is excited about the season, but I'm excited because I get to be with a great race team and with a group of people I really enjoy being around. I just feel like my life is completely in order right now. There's really nothing else that could happen to me right now to make it much better. I'm just trying to live it to its fullest. I could come in here and be a butt I guess, but that wouldn't be near as much fun. Instead, I come in and try to make people laugh and enjoy myself.
"Getting to step into the 40 car was much easier than starting up your new team. Those guys had already been racing over half of the season. They'd already won a couple of races, so it was definitely a better situation (than starting a team from scratch). I think that Chip and Andy and Tony have assembled a really good team. We just have to get used to working together. I told the people a few weeks ago when we went to Lakeland and tested and this pit crew and everything is brand new. There's nothing used from any of the other teams. I was laughing because all of the guys on my team come from different teams also. We came in to change a swaybar or something and they were all looking around trying to find 'em because no one knew where they were in the toolbox. It's extremely new. Over the last couple of weeks, I've seen the guys start working better together.
"When I first got in the 40 car, we'd come in to change a swaybar or something and it was amazing how fast they could change it. They'd get done and I couldn't believe they did it that fast. That's something that's going to take my team a little while to get used to is just working together and working well together.
"I think Casey and I will be asking Sterling more questions than we'll be asking each other. Sterling is going to be a big help. There's no doubt about that. Even last year, I told everybody how good he was to me and not being jealous or trying not to help. He did everything he could to help us, and I think that's going to continue on through this season. There will be race tracks that I haven't been to, along with Casey, like Pocono and Indy and Sears Point. Hopefully we can both go to him and try to learn from that and see what he can help us out with. The thing about Sterling is that I really trust him. When he tells me something I truly believe that's what he thinks. Maybe it won't work for me, but there's a lot of people in the garage area you can talk to and when they tell you something you let it go in one ear and out the other. With Sterling, he's just a genuine guy, and I really believe what he tells me.
"Casey reminds me a lot of myself. I feel like he's really focused on what he wants. I don't think Casey lets girls come in front of racing. He just seems like this is what he wants to do. He comes from a racing family just like I did. Casey gets to the track when I do, and I try to be one of the first guys to the track. I don't have to call and wake him up like I have some other people in the past. He's a really good guy. I think he'll be successful. You just have to hope, along with my team, that he can communicate with Jimmy (crew chief Elledge) and they can be successful together. Right now that I think everybody realizes that Chip has assembled a great group people. Everyone works well together. They're going to be successful.
"One of the things that helped my Busch program last year, I made them tell me some of the things they were going to change but not all of it, because I was the same way. If they changed something on the car and I had my mind made up that it wasn't going to work, I would make it not work on the race track. Just because some of the setups we run now in your head you think there's no way it's going to work. You have to have that reassurance that it's going to work - especially at a place that's fast like Atlanta or Charlotte where if you wreck it can hurt. You've got to have a lot of faith in that. I don't know if I'm the best example of that. We ran the same setup that Sterling ran two years ago at Charlotte and it worked for us. It doesn't always work out like that. I know where Jeff is coming from saying he has to be more open because I still have to do that myself. Maybe the things that worked on my short track cars growing up racing, the same stuff doesn't work here because it seems like aero overcomes the mechanical side of it so much.
"When Chip hired me, certain people wrote articles or stories about me that wanted to know why he did hire me. I know Havoline had to feel the same way. Why did we hire a rookie and take a chance on someone that hasn't won? The races I ran in Cup last year helped my confidence and also made it better for the team and Havoline and everybody in relieving them in knowing that I was capable of doing it. It relieved me. I was nervous for those races, and it's going to make this year easier because I feel like I can do it myself if we can just get the communication between Donnie (crew chief Wingo) and myself. I think we showed that last year when I was with the 40 car that he was capable of winning and I was capable of winning as a driver. We're going to do that again this year."