Ford drivers Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, and David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, both have their sights set on making this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time. The two drivers...
Ford drivers Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, and David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, both have their sights set on making this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time. The two drivers spoke about their expectations for 2009 at last week's Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour.
DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500? "That would be more than a win. That would be something that for the rest of your life you would always be a Daytona 500 champion. The race at Martinsville pays the same amount of points, but there's just something different about Daytona that you've always got and you can always talk about. It's more than a win, it's an accomplishment, it's the satisfaction and just something you never forget about."
DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHASE A LOT OR JUST ABOUT TAKING ANOTHER STEP FORWARD? "Absolutely. We think about the chase. We're not gonna crunch numbers every single weekend like I'm in calculus class or something and have all these formulas that we have to do to finish in the top 12 at Richmond, but the bottom line is if we can average a 10th or 12th-place finish all year, not have any DNF's, be fast, we're gonna be in the chase. That's it. Like I say, we can compare our numbers to last year and other people that have been in the chase, but that is something we think a lot about. That is our goal for this year and I think we've just got to do what we know is right and the points will take care of themselves."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL OF THESE HIGH EXPECATIONS THIS YEAR? "I appreciate the high expectations. Yes, that does put extra pressure on you to perform. It's always fun going back home to Unadilla and seeing all my friends and family, but they always tell you, 'We're watching you. We're pulling for you. We want to see you in Victory Lane. We love seeing you qualify in the top 10.' Stuff like that and the first thing I think about is that puts more pressure on me because I don't want to let anybody down. I think it's the same way with the UPS family, the UPS employees and everybody associated with Ford Motor Company. I carry that weight that I can't let those guys down and certainly we want our own personal satisfaction, but it makes me happy that when we run well a lot of people get excited about it."
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL GOALS? "Making the chase and winning. I think some of the guys are thinking championship, but we're not thinking that. We've got to take small steps. It's mandatory to win a race this year. We'll be devastated if we complete the season without a win. We know we can make the chase. We know we can win races, it's just a matter of having that good feel week-in and week-out with the race car and the race team and just being comfortable. I think Jimmy Fennig and Jack Roush or anyone in the Fenway Sports Group would say the same that winning races and being in the chase (are goals for this year)."
ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE PROSPECTS OF A NEW ENGINE? "Absolutely. As a race car driver we always want more power. Even if we've got the most, we always want just a little bit more. Like Jack mentioned earlier, that engine that we're running right now is the same engine basically that they were running in the seventies and eighties. A lot of new technology has gone into the new engine and I think we're really excited about getting it into our Ford Fusions -- not only the horsepower, but the other small things like the water flow technology and the construction of the engine is gonna make it easier to work around it -- to set up the cars a little different with our aero package. So the horsepower is what everybody thinks about, but there are four or five other things that go along with that engine that will help us, too."
THE PLAN IS TO PHASE IT IN LATER IN THE SEASON. WOULD YOU WANT TO LOBBY TO BE ONE OF THE FIRST TO USE IT? "I'll let Jimmy Fennig make that decision. I want whatever is best for the team and you want the greatest and newest piece you can have, but sometimes a little risk comes with that reward and anything that's new and going through its opening phase, but Jimmy will be the one that makes that decision."
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO SWITCH THE ENGINES OUT? "Certainly the engines that we have now are bulletproof. They make good power. We haven't had an engine failure in two years on the Cup side with our No. 6 UPS team, so we've had a good track record but there's always room for improvement. I know Doug and everyone over at the Roush Yates Engine shop will make sure that engine is ready to go when they put it in a race car."
YOUR DAD RACED HIS WHOLE CAREER IN SECOND-HAND EQUIPMENT. HOW OFTEN DO YOU AND HE TALK ABOUT YOUR SITUATION? "Everyday we talk to each other he makes a comment about the Roush Fenway Group and our team and how fortunate I am to be in that position. He loved racing just as much as I did but never had that opportunity like I've got at Roush Fenway. He's certainly opened a lot of doors for me and I know that if he would have had the opportunities that I'm having now, he would have found Victory Lane and won some races, but he was just a parts guy in the south that had a lot of cotton and peanut farmers working on his race cars."
WHAT ARE YOU BEST MEMORIES GROWING UP WITH HIM AT THE TRACK? "Probably just going to Atlanta for some of the races and Atlanta is still today one of our favorite areas and race tracks to go to just because the family and the presence of a lot of friends there. Just basically getting to hang out with all my family and cousins and aunts and uncles and then having the friends there with your dad racing was always a pretty neat thing."
-credit: ford racing