JAMIE McMURRAY(No. 42 Texaco-Havoline Dodge) HAS THE NEW 26-RACE CUTOFF MARK FORCED YOU TO STEP IT UP A LITTLE? "No, I don't think so. I think every week you go out and give 100 percent. You might be thinking about it more, but you don't ...
JAMIE McMURRAY(No. 42 Texaco-Havoline Dodge)
HAS THE NEW 26-RACE CUTOFF MARK FORCED YOU TO STEP IT UP A LITTLE?
"No, I don't think so. I think every week you go out and give 100 percent. You might be thinking about it more, but you don't do anything different as a driver. We're just going to have to give a little bit more than maybe you would. You can't afford to have a DNF or to pinch somebody off and end up wrecking yourself. I think from here on out we'll end up thinking about it more than anything. I've had three or four finishes 36th or worse. We broke a motor in Atlanta, got wrecked at Richmond and obviously got tied up in one of those big wrecks at Daytona. We've run well enough to be there. We've just had a couple of terrible finishes, and that's made us work harder to get back to the top 10. Racing is so weird. It goes in cycles. It seems like if things are going your way you can't hardly screw it up. Every week your car is good, and you're always contending for a win. Then at other times it seems like you can't make the right decision. You make a bad pit call or you just can't make the car handle. For us, it's not bad. We ran ninth (at Pocono) and we're totally disappointed with ourselves. I think it's good you can run in the top 10 and still be upset."
OUTLOOK FOR MICHIGAN AND RECAP LAST TWO RACES
"We're going to take the same car this weekend. It's the car I ran last year at Indy and Darlington and ran so well with. Our first race with it this year was the Nextel Open. We ran well in that race (third) and then ran fourth at Charlotte (Coca-Cola 600) with it. We've been racing it a lot. I wrecked it at Vegas earlier this year, but we got it fixed and it's definitely my best racecar that I have. We're going to continue to race it until we tear it up or find something that I think is better. I've always enjoyed going there (Michigan). I sat on the pole there in the truck in my very first race. I've run well there, and I've struggled also. You definitely have to have a good racecar with a good body on it. Downforce is huge there. You can race three or four wide. You can run around the bottom or run around the top, so I'm definitely looking forward to going this weekend. It's a fun track for me."
IS MICHIGAN A PERFECT TRACK IN REGARDS TO CHASE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE YOU CAN RACE ANYWHERE ON THE TRACK?
"I think the more critical races, obviously Daytona is going to be huge because you take such a risk of being caught up in a wreck, but Michigan is such a fun place to race. If your car works well, you don't have to follow the guy in front of you. You can just kinda go where he's not. For our team, the past few races, we've been struggling with being aero tight behind guys. Michigan is a place where you can run somewhere different and get some air on the front of your car and make it go, so it's just a fun place to race."
COMMENT ON SAFER WALLS
"Every driver in the garage talks about how happy they are to see them at the race track. At Pocono they put 'em up in turn one and for some reason they didn't put 'em up in the tunnel turn and turn three. I don't know why because you're going fast there always, but every time we see them at a race track somebody brings it up. Either at driver intros or in the garage, thank God they put those up. I've hit a wall with them, and I've hit a wall without them and there's a huge difference. I blew a right front tire at Michigan one year and killed the wall, so it's good to see all these race tracks putting the SAFER walls up. As a driver it just makes us that much more comfortable doing what we do."
HOW SHOULD A CUP ROOKIE DEAL WITH SUCCESS?
"I think it's good to see that Kasey is not going to fly back and forth across the United States at a few of these races. He's going to stick in his Nextel Cup car. Right now I think when it starts getting the toughest is when it starts to get hot and you get tired. Kasey is a sharp kid, and he's with a team that's going to take care of him. To find a good balance between staying in shape and staying focused because running both cars is better on one side because you don't have to worry about anything else. If things aren't going good you go get in your Busch car. You learn a lot of stuff that you can take over to Sunday. The down side of that is maybe you're going to get tired. It's hot and trying to run both races, but there's a lot of us that run both the Busch and Cup races. I don't think that's a problem, but the biggest thing is just staying focused, and if things get tough don't worry about it."
TALK ABOUT GROWING UP RACING WITH TONY STEWART
"I met Tony in Newton, Iowa. That's the very first time I ever remember being with him. He was always a class ahead of me. He was just old enough to be one step above me in go-karting, but we raced together in go-karts. It's really weird because I didn't see him for a long time, and it's the same thing with me I'm sure. It's crazy to see a guy you grew up in go-karts with and race with him now in the Nextel Cup Series. Tony and I are good friends. Everyone has a buddy in the garage, and Tony is a guy if you ever see his other side... When he puts the helmet on he wants to win. Sometimes he doesn't make maybe the best decisions, but away from the racetrack, just being a friend, he's a great guy. He's someone if I have a problem I can go to him and talk to him about it. I really trust his opinion and sometimes get advice from him. Tony is good to make fun of people. I had maybe a goofy haircut, but Tony is going to have to get on the treadmill because he's been eating way too many filet of fish. That's all I can say back."
COMMENT ON CONFIDENCE IN NASCAR RUNNING A RACE
"It's too bad it's happened two weeks in a row. The deal that happened this week, what's so frustrating about it is that they told us in the drivers' meeting... Two people got up and told us what we were going to do. When all those guys came on pit road, Donnie (crew chief Wingo) started screaming and said to stay out, you have to come by twice before pit road is open. We felt like we were making the right decision and then it ended up hurting us. It killed us on some track position. It was the same thing for Jimmie Johnson. Fortunately he stayed out the next caution and made up some track position. It's just too bad to have it happen two weeks in a row. They can have whatever rule they want as long as it's the same for everybody. If they say something in the drivers' meeting they should stick by it. I don't know the whole story about what's happened there, but it's frustrating for a driver who has worked so hard for track position and then to have it all taken away when you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. Just do what you're going to say. It was definitely a big screw up, no doubt about it, but I think a lot of it has to do with the guy throwing the green flag. I don't know if someone told him to do that or he just got confused. You just have to make it so those guys understand what's going on. I'd like to see them on pit road come up with a different system. All of the crew chiefs scan NASCAR. Everybody has somebody on the radio that scans NASCAR. Maybe the race director just comes on and says pit road is open now and the crew chief can get on the radio and tell the drivers. That's happened before. It screwed up people at Martinsville a few years ago when they didn't get the flag out quick enough. I don't know the answer, but it would be nice to have a little bit different method of opening and closing the pits."
DO YOU STILL HAVE SAME ENTHUSIASM FOR RACING?
"If all they made you do was race the car that would be awesome. That's what everyone wants to do. That's the best part, coming to the shop and hanging out with the guys and then going to the track and racing the car. Sometimes the media stuff is not that bad. It's just that when you're tired and had a long weekend or a bad weekend sometimes it seems like it can happen at a bad time for you. Most definitely it's as much fun. I think sometimes I don't show my enthusiasm as much because I've got a lot of my mind, but I definitely enjoy what I'm doing."
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET IN RACE MODE? "
That's all I think about all day long. I don't know that I really ever get out of it. I think when you get to this level you definitely have to have some time to relax. Sterling goes and plays on a bulldozer and tractor to get away. I just bought some land north of Charlotte. I go there and hang out. I've got a dirt bike and a couple of four-wheelers. I just like to ride around and get away and just relax."
TALK ABOUT THE TRANSITION FROM YOUR ROOKIE YEAR UNTIL NOW
"The biggest thing is I've been to all the racetracks. I know like this weekend going to Pocono I thought about that with some of the rookies because that was a tough track for me going there for my first race. You've got the setup you ran good or bad and you had to adjust on it. Just being with my team another year and going to all the racetracks it's a lot more comfortable feeling going into each weekend."
WHAT TRACKS DID YOU HAVE TO ADJUST TO?
"Rockingham is somewhere I've run well ever since my first race in Busch I think I've run in the top 10 there. I like to go there. Darlington has always been a good racetrack for me. Martinsville is somewhere we went to the first time and ran really well at. I just like going somewhere different. I hate it when we run the mile and a half, cookie cutter tracks every single weekend. That gets boring, so I like getting to go run at different size tracks. I wish when people build tracks they would looking for something like Darlington, something different, something that's a challenge. If I had to build a racetrack, I'd build Bristol. That brings out a ton of fans and it's fun for the drivers and it's different. Or something like Richmond, that's fine always. Just something that's different. Pocono is as goofy looking as can be, but it's a fun racetrack. It's a challenge. All three corners are different. It's hard to get around. As a racecar driver that's what I look for, something that's different. I like going to those places"
COMMENT ON WINNING YOUR SECOND CUP START AS SUB FOR STERLING
"I've had 50 other chances, and I can't win another one. We've come close a few times, but it's so hard to win one of these races and that's why it's such a big deal to win your second start. You can have the best car and not win the race or if things go your way you don't have to have the best car and you can win the race. To see Jimmie and Junior have won three this year, that's incredible those guys have been able to do that. When things go your way that's what happens. This whole sport is huge cycle and you just have to hope it's your turn."