Fontana: Jamie McMurray - Dodge interview

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) NOTE: McMurray announced Friday morning at California Speedway a "Driving Autism Awareness" program that will contribute $42 for every lap McMurray leads this season to the Autism Society ...

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)

NOTE: McMurray announced Friday morning at California Speedway a "Driving Autism Awareness" program that will contribute $42 for every lap McMurray leads this season to the Autism Society of America. McMurray will race the Driving Autism Awareness 2005 Dodge Charger at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.

"Bristol is a racetrack you battle at all day long, more so than other places. This is a battle we're fighting and the two just kinda go together."

COMMENT ON WHY YOU'RE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT RAISING MONEY FOR AUTISM

"It hasn't been near as hard on me as it's been on my sister. I hate it when you get emotional, but it's something I believe in and it's hard not to. I remember when my niece (Lauren) was six months old she constantly cried. No one knew why, and it was very hard to talk to her and relate to her. When she became old enough they figured out something wasn't right. It's just hard because she would cry and she can't explain to you why she's crying. It's something that's very sad. Everyone loves kids. When you see something that's so helpless, it's sad.

"My sister, Trisha, will be 35 this year. I think a big misconception in America at least is when you think autism you think Rainman. That's the first thing that came to my mind, 'oh, she's going to be able to count.' There are so many different types. It's different for everyone. When you see something that's so small that's so helpless, it's just hard. Havoline has come up with the majority of these ideas. They want to be a big part of it because they know it's something I really believe in. Who doesn't want to be a part of something that's such a good cause. Elliott Sadler has a niece that's autistic. I think her name is Haley. It's great because Elliott and I are probably two of the closer drivers in this series and we both have the same goals in mind with this. The biggest thing is people might see these puzzle pieces on the back of the car and might not know exactly what it is. We're very fortunate we're in the biggest form of racing in America and it's something we can promote. It's something that hits me personally. I think people pick charities sometimes and it's something they don't really believe in. This is something I really believe in. Havoline has come up with the $42 for every lap I lead, and everybody has been willing to chip in and do their part.

"My sister lives in Joplin, Mo. That's where I was raised. I see her maybe eight times a year. She's actually getting ready to move to North Carolina. She's spent the last year trying to figure out where you can send Lauren to school. It's been tough. You just don't pick up and move like you do with regular children."

COMMENT ON NEW QUALIFYING SCHEDULE

"I'm looking forward to seeing how it's going to work out. It's going to be kinda odd tomorrow, qualifying the Busch car at 10 a.m. and then waiting until 3 to race. We don't have to focus on qualifying now (in Cup). We can go out and work on our race run stuff, make a couple of changes and it'll be easier on the teams. We won't have to switch back and forth from qualifying to race trim."

COMMENT ON RACING AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY

"We didn't get a very good test here and Vegas. We struggled. We never could get a good balance on the car, but I'm looking forward to getting back to the speedways where we can actually race. At Daytona you're pretty much helpless what you can do as a driver. You're pretty much dependent on horsepower and you car itself. This place puts a lot more driver into it. I know, along with the other 42 drivers here, we're glad to get through Daytona."

COMMENT ON NOT GOING TO ROCKINGHAM

"It would be great to go to Rockingham this weekend. Rockingham is one of my favorite racetracks. It was always nice if you didn't run well at Daytona to always go to a track where you did run well. They couldn't sell enough seats, and this sport is definitely based on fans. That's what makes it happen, so we're here in L.A. It's another great venue and another great track where I run well. I'm not going to dwell on the past. I think Rockingham is somewhat like Darlington. It's a traditional racetrack. It's somewhere they want for a long time, and it's close to home for the teams. If they could put Rockingham here, they would sell it out because it's one of the best racetracks we race on. I think everyone enjoyed going there."

COMMENT ON NASCAR'S POPULARITY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

"I haven't spent a lot of time in L.A. and people always want to talk about getting recognized out here. You don't as much, but more this year than ever. We went to a couple of Hollywood parties, and I was overly impressed with the amount of celebrities that recognize you. Maybe you weren't their favorite driver, but they come up and tell you who their favorite driver is. The sport is bigger than ever right now. It might take a little time to sell this out, but it's a great venue for us."

IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO RACE WELL AT CALIFORNIA AFTER NOT GETTING THE RESULTS YOU WANTED AT DAYTONA?

"We tested here and Vegas along with everyone else in the series and didn't have the test we wanted. We brought back the same chassis but a completely different car, so we hope we've made the right adjustments."

IS THIS A TOUGH TRACK TO GET A HANDLE ON?

"I don't think so. I've run third, fourth and 15th here. It's been a really good racetrack for me and I love coming here. We almost won the race in 2003. I don't know if we led the most laps, but we led a lot of laps and got beat at the end."

COMMENT ON PIT ROAD SPEEDING

"I'm glad they're all getting caught. You watch it all the time. It's something everyone does, but now that they've got this electronic timing it's not going to happen any more. They're going to penalize the guy. I'm really glad they stepped up. They're going to catch me eventually, but it's fair for everyone. You just have to be more cautious. I don't think they're going to penalize you for something small if it's real close. If your rpm is supposed to be 4,000, they might go 5,000. I don't know how much faster it is, but it's a lot and it's definitely frustrating when you see that happen."

COMMENT ON GOING TO MEXICO

"I'm very excited. I'm glad Havoline has stepped up and going to let me go. I wanted to run Rusty's car, but Rusty said he was the car owner and this was his last year so he was going to go. Chip called and asked if I want to go and I said, 'most definitely.' I love Mexican food. My sister owned a Mexican restaurant for years. It's some of my favorite. I'm going home after California, going to Mexico City and then straight to Las Vegas. We ran fourth at Vegas last year. It's a fun town, and it's a good environment to be in. I've never been to Mexico. I've been to Russia. I raced go-karts there in 1989. I was one of 10 Americans chosen to go there and race. I won one of the races. Russia was very poor. I didn't grow up in a wealthy family at all, but that whole country when we were there, it was still a Communist country at the time, and I just couldn't believe how grateful the Russians were just to get food. We'd go in the cafeteria and they would bring food. The American kids would joke around, and the Russian kids would sit down and eat as much as they could. Apparently they didn't get to always eat like that. When we came home it made you think differently about your life."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jamie McMurray , Elliott Sadler