Jamie McMurray goes into the 2015 Chase with realistic expectations and no stress. He's just happy to finally be a part of it.
Jamie McMurray has been on the edge of the Chase many times over the last decade or so, even serving as a catalyst for a format chance after winning three races in 2010 and still failing to make the cut. But in 2015, McMurray comfortably locked himself into the postseason as the 12th seed.
You see pressure, you see stress (in the Chase) and I'm not going to have that.
He is one of five drivers who made this year's Chase without winning a race, leading only 14 laps the entire season so far.
"I feel like if we do exactly what we've been doing, to make it into the second round won't be a problem," he told Motorsport.com during Chase Media Day at The Murphy in Chicago. "I think we have a legitimate shot (because of the tracks in the second round) to make it to the next. When you get down to the last couple of rounds, I think you have to win a race or run top five consistently to keep making it.
Needing to improve intermediate program
"And we have to get better at the 1.5 milers in order to do that because there are so many, especially in the last two rounds. If we can get our intermediate program better, I'll feel a lot better about that."
McMurray noted that due to his team's relationship with Hendrick Motorsports, when they catch up, you'll notice an improvement in CGR as well.
"The reliability of the Hendrick engines, transmissions, gears has been amazing. I think, by far we have the best engines of any manufacturer. Our engines are incredible.
"If they (Hendrick) ever get down, they seem to be the first that can put it all together and get it back to where it needs to be. They have come a long ways in the last month or two and I think in the next four weeks, it's going to get even better. It's been a little bit off, but I expect it to get right back to where it needs to be soon."
The 'new' guy in the Chase
McMurray and Paul Menard are the only two 2015 Chase contenders who have never been in the discussion before. The pilot of the No. 1 Chevrolet SS looked to A.J. Allmendinger for advice, a driver who competed in his first Chase last season when this new format was first implemented.
"I'm really proud of our team and what we've been able to do to make the Chase. I think I'm most proud that we would have made it in any format. We've been top ten in points all year long and it's a huge accomplishment for our team.
"To me, we've learned that wining is important, but it's not the only way to get there."
Despite being 'new' to the Chase and having inferior cars to the the top seeds, McMurray does have one advantage over the competition.
"When I look at the guys in the top five in points, they've won races and they've been there all year long and they're expected to stay there. I feel like it's going to be one of those guys who fall out in the first round.
"You see pressure, you see stress and I'm not going to have that."