Preseason Test: McMurray - Dodge interview

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON TESTING AT DIS "We have to come in and do this test every year. Just talking to all the other drivers it's a pretty boring place to test, but it's something you've got to do...

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

COMMENT ON TESTING AT DIS

"We have to come in and do this test every year. Just talking to all the other drivers it's a pretty boring place to test, but it's something you've got to do to get ready for this race. It's a huge race for us. I think all of us are looking forward to getting out and doing the drafting part of it. The qualifying practice is about as boring as it gets in a car."

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW DIS INFIELD

"It's pretty, but I don't understand all of it yet. It's new and it looks good. It just needs a couple more roads in it and a couple more doors."

TALK ABOUT YOUR SURFING TRIP TO HAWAII

"Fox does all the pre-race shows, and they thought it would be interesting to take a couple of drivers to Hawaii and let them surf with the best surfers in the world. We got to go over, Kasey Kahne and I went. We got to go to Hawaii and they have one of the biggest surfing competitions in the world. I think 40-foot waves were there when we went. They teamed me up with Kelly Slater, the six-time world champion surfer. They compare him to Dale Earnhardt, saying he's the best there probably ever will be in surfing. He's kinda a unique guy. They put Kasey, because he was a rookie last year, with their rookie of the year surfer. The guys took us out and painted up our surf boards like our racecars and taught us how to surf. It was a lot of fun. It was something different, and one of the coolest parts of doing what we do is getting to meet all the other celebrities and other athletes. Those guys were a blast. It was fun to hang out with them. The surfing life is quite a bit different than the racecar driver life. It was cool to experience that for a week. I think it's the pre-race for the 500."

DO YOU HAVE TO START THINKING ABOUT THE CHASE AT DAYTONA?

"For my team, just leading a lap in three other races would have put us in or finishing one spot better and we would have made it. I think so. I think that's our mentality, to go out and lead as many races as we can to get those bonus points. If you have problems, don't give up. We had that same mentality last year, but when you go through what we did it makes you think about it a little more. For our team, I think our performance is good enough. We just need to work on finishing more races. Our weakest point right now is superspeedway races. I don't mind coming to these. I enjoy the racing part of it. I don't know if I put myself in a bad position, but I always seem to get caught up in the wreck. I think that's a big focus for us. Last year it was road course races and we finished second at Sonoma. We really tried hard at those and tested all of them, so we're going to try to do the same thing at the superspeedways this year."

COMMENT ON WEARING SMALLER SHOES DURING THE RACE AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH STERLING MARLIN

"I got that from Casey when he ran open wheel cars. The cockpit is so much smaller even than what we have. When you put a tighter shoe on you just have a little bit more room and you can feel the car a little bit better. The downside of that is if you have to make the long walk down pit road it's a little bit uncomfortable. As far as being in the car, you just try to wear shoes that are a little bit smaller than what you would normally wear, not totally uncomfortable, but tighter than you'd wear for everyday shoes.

"As far as Sterling, when I was put in the position of driving his car in 2002, he had led the points for most of the season. I was just a kid running a Busch car. I didn't even know Sterling, so I was a little bit intimidated. From that time on, Sterling has been great to be around. He's been very warm to me. He's a nice guy. Everybody knows him. He's as nice of a guy as you can get. He's probably one of the last good ol' boys of our sport. He's a good friend, and he's a great guy if you have some questions to turn to."

DO YOU PRIORITIZE YOUR TEST SESSIONS?

"Last year we tried to test at our weakest racetracks. We'll probably continue to do that this year. I joked around about Mark Martin somewhere. I can't remember where we were at, but it was somewhere Mark Martin had won a lot of races. I said, 'why would he want to come here and test? He's won so many races here.' They said when you get to be at his level when you run well everywhere sometimes you go to your best racetracks to test and hope you can win the race. For our team right now, it's about going where we feel like we're weak and trying to get better at those tracks. I think the majority of the teams are going to Las Vegas and California. I think we're testing four days in a row. That's going to be really important. Obviously we have a new car and they cut an inch off the rear spoiler. Casey has tested it a little bit, but the cars don't drive as good as they did last year. I look at that, and I think last year they cut three-fourths of an inch off and we went to Vegas and tested and the first day everyone in the garage was mad at NASCAR wanting to know why they cut the spoilers off because you couldn't drive 'em. The cars were loose and wanted to spin out. Then two or three races into the season it wasn't even an issue. It's going to be important to go there and just try to get good balance. The fact that test is going to be so close to the race date and then we come straight to Daytona pretty much when you leave that test, if you have a good test there you pretty much know when you go back you're going to race well. Guys are not going to have time to go back and cut up cars and try to do something different. Those first two tests for the majority of the teams are going to be very important."

WHY ARE YOU HERE TESTING?

"I think probably the most important reason is because we have the fanfest here this weekend. We haven't been around you guys (press) for a month, 30 days I think they said. We came back and I've done a lot of appearances and got to knock out a bunch of interviews that we might do over the phone but it's better to do them in person. Then we did the fanfest last night. As far as the racing part, it's very boring for drivers and we probably don't make any difference. When you come here this is pretty much an engineering and horsepower test. That's what it is for qualifying. We just had a team meeting and from what we've seen so far we don't have a shot for the pole. We're not necessarily going to work on speed. Obviously you're still going to go as fast as you can, but we're going to get our car where it will drive really well. It's so important here than what it is at Talladega. Last year I finished third here in my 125 and we thought we had a real good car for the 500 because it drove well. For us, it's probably somewhat important for me to be here right now to go out and do the drafting practice and learn what I can."

WHAT DOES CHIP GANASSI EXPECT OF YOUR TEAM THIS SEASON?

"It's hard for me to speak for him. I was just at his IndyCar shop last week getting fitted for the 24-hour car. He has a picture up for every one of his IndyCar wins. I don't know how many there are, but there are a million pictures in this room. I think he won four CART championships in a row and then won the Indy 500 and then won the IRL championship last year. He's very used to winning. He understands it isn't going to happen overnight. They had a lot of success with Sterling in 2002 and realistically had a shot at winning the championship then, but this sport is an up and down deal. Sometimes everything goes your way, and sometimes it doesn't. For our race team, we started a Busch team last year. They changed our cars around completely from what we ran in 2003. We moved into a new building. We had a lot going on last year, and I don't know if that set us back but it definitely didn't let us move forward the way we needed to. This year the Busch team is established. All of our cars are way ahead of where they were last year, and we're in our new building. Right now we're doing a lot of research and development and making our cars better. Everybody thinks their season is going to be better, but our team is going to be better. One of our weaknesses last year was pit stops, not only for my team but for all three teams. They have taken that program in and hired a lot of new people and they feel like that's going to be a big difference this year. As much as we did last year it was hard to move forward. The fact we're all moved in right now, we're moving forward and we should get better."

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM RUSTY WALLACE?

"I didn't even know Rusty Wallace until I started driving his Busch car last June. It amazes me when we go out and eat dinner how many people know Rusty Wallace and how many Rusty Wallace fans there are. They are very loyal, and there's a good reason behind that. The thing I've learned from him is when I would go out and eat dinner at a race and a fan would come up and want an autograph, I've been around some drivers who would get upset about it. When the fan would walk away there wasn't anything good that came out of it. I kinda got that mentality last year of maybe not appreciating what you have. When I got around Rusty, we'd be at dinner and a fan would walk up and he would talk so much the fan would try to get away and he'd be pulling the guy back. There's a reason he's got all those fans. The other thing he does that's really cool that I've learned from him is with sponsors. When sponsors bring those 200,000 VIPs to the racetrack each weekend, it's fun to sit back and watch him. He's nice to everybody and there's a reason that when you look at Rusty's uniform there's hundreds of sponsors on each sleeve that aren't Penske's. They're Rusty's. I've learned more from him in six months than I have in racing I think in my whole life. It's just incredible. It's fun to talk to Rusty about setups because he's so intense. I really enjoy that. That's kinda what hit if off for us when I drove his Busch car. We'd sit in his motorhome and talk for hours about springs and shocks and kinda put everybody else to sleep in there. It's nice to sit back and watch how he deals with fans."

WHAT'S YOUR FUTURE WITH GANASSI?

"I didn't pay a lot of attention to that last year. I go home every night and I get on the internet and I read NASCAR.com and I read Jayski. I want to see what's going on with everybody else. When all that was going on I had just moved and I didn't have the internet. The only thing I read was from the guys in the garage area. I'd just go do my thing and try to make the least amount of comments I could on it, like I am right now and just kinda went on."

COMMENT ON THE DAYTONA FAN ZONE

"It's going to be cool for them. I noticed yesterday as I sat in the car, you get to sit in the car 15 minutes between runs as they cool it down, I noticed all the fans. They're packed to that window trying to get in and look. At first I thought that was going to get old quick, but I looked at the other side of it and I remember the first time I came to one of these races. When you get to get that close and see the guys working on the cars, they really don't get to do that at any other racetrack. There's always pit boxes in the way and they kinda pick around the corner, but it's going to be cool for them and hard for the drivers to adjust to. Maybe when you're not having a good day it's going to be a little frustrating. I like to watch 'em try to stick their head through that window. It's not quite big enough for a head, but they'll try it and that's kinda comical. I think you'll see a lot of pit boxes parked in front of that window. It's hard. Yesterday I was standing at a table talking to my engineer and 50 people were looking at you. What are they looking at? They're all taking pictures through the glass. It's going to be tough."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Kasey Kahne , Mark Martin