Pocono II: Pole winner interview

JAMIE McMURRAY , DRIVER OF THE NO. 42 HAVOLINE/TEXACO DODGE CHARGER How was the car? "The car was really tight on the short runs, but by the end of the run I could make it up but we couldn't gain anything. We wanted to make the car good...


How was the car?

"The car was really tight on the short runs, but by the end of the run I could make it up but we couldn't gain anything. We wanted to make the car good in the short run in practice yesterday, and in qualifying it was super fast."

What did you learn since the June race?

"What we learned is that, since it's an impound race, the guys that qualify well tend to stay up front. The race we had a month ago wasn't that way. The guys that started in the back were able to get up front. I think a lot of that came because guys didn't tighten the car up enough for qualifying. We switched our car over from race to qualifying and we went to the extreme - we went a lot further than we thought we needed and I was still too loose. Today, we went even further. I was shocked at how much they had to tighten the car."

Do the drivers need to have more give and take on turn two?

"That's a tough thing to do. At the June race on the last restart, I did all but wreck Jeff because I was on the inside. If you hit that bump at the right angle it's not that big of deal, but if you hit it and you're tight it really launches your car straight. We'll have to wait and see. I ran on the racetrack last night and went over to see what they had fixed. The curb looks great and they've done a wonderful job. It seems like we had a dip before and now we have a high spot. That's what it feels like, at least. There was as much rebound as what we run on the front shocks. The tires don't come back down quick enough and it feels like you actually pull the front tires up off the ground. It feels like they need to pave a little bit more in each direction."

Is there any reason to doubt your commitment for the 2006 season?

"No. Obviously, when you race a car, every time you get in it, I don't think anyone wants to go to Martinsville or Bristol or here and run 500 laps or 500 miles and not give all they can. I think a lot of times what destroys race teams or makes race teams good or bad is the people who are around. I sat all my guys down at Loudon last week - we had a meeting - and it was very unfortunate because I didn't get to tell my guys first - they had to read it on the Internet. That's tough, but you get in a situation where you can't talk. You want to tell your friends, but you can't. You try to do the right thing and it just ends up making someone mad. Obviously they had read everything on the Internet and knew what was going on. At Loudon we had a pre-race meeting and I told everyone 'Look, I don't really need to tell you this....'. And I told them that I'm going to give it 100 percent. I'm usually in a pretty good mood and I'm easy to be around. I think everyone understands the deal. It's one of those deals where no one is going to give up. They're still giving me really good race cars and I think we've proved that today. There's nothing more that I want to do than prove all of you wrong who said that our team was going to fall apart when everything was announced. "

What is the story behind the car that you brought here and have raced so much this season?

"When I find a car that I like, that's the car that we race, except for Daytona and road courses and short tracks. At Martinsville and Richmond we have a different car. We did the same thing last year, and we got on a streak where we ran so well for so many races. I would say that 95 percent of those races were the same car, not this car but another car. You work so hard to make the bodies not outdrive the racetrack. When you get the bottom clearance, you see the tires rub on the fenders. So then you work on making the tires clear the fenders. When you bring new cars, that's what you fight every weekend. It's so hard to make it not drag or not make the fenders hit. We like this car and we ran second with it at Texas. The guys just cut the nose off and make it better. Everyone has their own way of going about that, but we feel like when we get a car that works, there's no point in trying something else. You just run it until you find something better."

How hard has it been to focus on racing with everything else going on?

"Yes, it's tough. I'm almost 30 - I'm 29 now - and I still kind of view myself as a kid. I still do goofy things and I do things that 20 year olds do. That's kind of who I am. When it comes to the different side of it, that's really tough. That's probably the hardest part, aside from not having time. You never make everyone happy and you always end up disappointing someone. For me, I hate it when I disappoint someone, whether that's a car owner or your family or a friend. That's tough. You feel like you're doing what's best for you, and you end up disappointing somebody.

Is there anything reassuring about winning the pole today?

"Qualifying to me is irrelevant, because I don't really care if I qualify first or 20th because the races are so long. It's good for the media, because it gives you something to write about. It's going to show that our team didn't give up. If you qualify second, you don't care, but if you qualify first, it's a good story."

What would it do for you and your team to win this weekend?

"Obviously it's frustrating. But I think what's more frustrating is that we haven't led very many laps. I think if we were to come here and lead the most laps and run in the top five, that would do as much for me as winning. Just putting yourself in that position, and once you do that enough you end up winning. Even when we ran well at Texas and Daytona, we didn't lead laps, we just put ourselves in good position at the end of the race to finish there. Yeah, a win would be huge, but right now we need to get back to where we can run in the top 10 every week and try to better ourselves."

Were you worried that, because you were out early, that Ryan Newman would catch you?

"It's great to get the pole, because I'd rather go out last and qualify 15th because you don't have to worry about it. You sit over there and stare at the monitor. It takes about a minute for everybody to go around here - it takes forever. Once Ryan went I felt pretty good about it, because he's the king of qualifying. I think going out early was an advantage. If I could have gone out first it would have been an advantage. They talk about the Hoosier rubber being on the racetrack and that the car doesn't handle the same. Yesterday, I was the first car on the racetrack and I thought I had a ton of grip immediately after ARCA practice. I felt like for me it would be an advantage."

How important is getting the pole as you look at the Chase for the Championship?

"Qualifying represents how your car will handle in the race, so if you qualify well you race well at these races. It makes feel good. You get a good pit stall and an opening, which is huge, because the pits stalls are so big. Donnie told me yesterday that he didn't care how we qualified, just to get it to where we could race good."

-dodge motorsports-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman