Tuesday, April 29, 2003. Dodge This Teleconference Jamie McMurray, Donnie Wingo California Recap, Richmond Advance JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid) "We felt like we had a car that was capable of winning the race if the race...
Tuesday, April 29, 2003.
Dodge This Teleconference
Jamie McMurray, Donnie Wingo
California Recap, Richmond Advance
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid)
"We felt like we had a car that was capable of winning the race if the race had just stayed green, but it didn't work out that way. I'm still pretty excited about the way the car ran all weekend.
"I didn't think we'd be able to do it at a track like that (California Speedway). With the body changes we've made, we all really struggled at Atlanta, but we went to Texas and Sterling had a really good run going there, also. He got caught up in a wreck with the 1 car, but yeah, that's great to know that two of our three cars were going to run in the top five and top 10. The thing about it is that once again Sterling and I had a similar setup. It's very encouraging to know that two of our cars were capable of running up front.
"I guess probably starting this year I went into the races a little bit different than last year. Getting to have my own team and all that. We've run 10 races so far, and I just feel like as a driver I'm more comfortable with everything associated with Winston Cup racing. I've got to know a lot of the drivers. I don't know them really well, but I've seen them a lot and talked to them at driver intros. I feel more comfortable around them out of the race car and also in the race car. You race so much in Winston Cup compared to Busch, I've got to race with these guys quite a bit already. I feel more comfortable and everything, but it's a little different from last year but nothing has changed this year so far.
"I didn't realize that I'd run so well at Richmond the last couple of years, but I've had quite a bit of success there in the Busch car. We're taking the same car we ran at Martinsville, and we had a top 10 car there, so I'm looking forward to going to Richmond. That's a fun place to race because you can run two wide around it. I'm looking forward to going there. I love to go get to do the short track stuff after being as some of these big race tracks. It's nice to get to go back and do the short track races. Bodies might play a small role at Richmond, but obviously not as much as they do at California. You just don't hear guys talk about being aero tight and all of that, and that makes racing so much more fun when you can take all those out of the equation.
"I think part of that is because I'm in the same cars each week. It's just like that car that I ran this weekend. There's something about sitting in that car that feels really good. I've felt really comfortable around all my guys and about everything that goes with Winston Cup - the length of the races. I feel more comfortable with knowing that if your car isn't real good in the beginning not to panic. In a Busch race, if your car is not real good in the beginning, you're probably not going to make up the difference in the end. The races aren't long enough. In the Cup Series, you don't have to worry about that as long as you can stay on the lead lap. I just about lapped Mark Martin on Sunday and the guy came back and was racing me on the next to last lap. It's such a different process in Winston Cup than the Busch was, but I feel 100 percent more comfortable in the cars. It's not really any different this year than it was last year, but I think I know more what I want this year and Donnie and I have worked together long enough now. I felt like by Homestead last year that Lee and Tony and I were working real well together. That was taken away, and I had to start over. A fourth of the way into this season I've kind of got that back with Donnie. I think Donnie is able to give me what I want. He made a real good call this weekend on changing some shocks around. He deserves a lot of the credit for our success this weekend because he made some good changes on the car. Everything is just working better now.
"No one is expected to win in their first five starts. Look at Kevin Harvick where he won in his third start. Last season he eased up a little bit. My situation is different than what Ryan and Jimmie were in and different than Kevin and them because it's a brand new team. Not only is it tough to go back and try to win a race, but when you try to do it with a brand new team, not only did they change the body rules on us, but we had to build brand new cars. We didn't know the cars because we never raced them before, so there's a lot of differences when comparing it to last year.
"I don't know if you can stay out there the whole time because I think you have some of the same fans out there (west). That would be tough, but as far as the drivers and teams, I think it would be a lot easier because that flight to the west coast takes a day or two to get over once you get out there and it takes a day or two to get over once you get back. I'd be all for that, but I'm not the one to say if that's right for NASCAR.
"It's a whole lot tougher to step into it when you're not with a good race team. He's (Kyle Busch) got everything on his side right now, not only with a brother who can coach him along and has been there and done that, but he's going to do it with Hendrick Motorsports. If you have to come up and do it, no better way to go about it than to get in first-class equipment. I'd say right now he's loving life. He just came off an ARCA win, which is pretty impressive, so that guy's got everything on his side right now and he believes in himself.
"I think there's definitely an issue there. At Martinsville I can definitely remember saying about the hundredth lap saying I can taste it. We've got to fix it before we come back here. This is horrible. The same thing this weekend at California. I felt like I could taste the fuel from the other cars. As a matter of fact, I'm at the shop today and I'm going to talk to them about that and see if we can put some type of filter on there and see if it'll help a little bit until we come up with something. Someone will come up with something before too long that will solve that (carbon monoxide) problem, but I'd like to see if we can find something right now to put a temporary fix on it. I don't necessarily have a headache afterwards, but I've heard a lot of guys say that. I've had that before, but I think it was just from having a bad day. The only thing I can tell you about it, you can literally taste the fuel, and if you've ever stood in the garage area and been around a car when they fire one up, you can taste it and smell it all at the same time. You can smell that in a race car. You're drawing air for your air conditioner, and your air conditioner is flowing straight into your helmet. You're taking that either from the C post windows or from the right side window. The car's exhaust blows right in that when you're on the race track, so you're going to get some of that. You've just got to figure how to clean some of that up before it gets to your helmet.
"I hope I'm giving it 100 percent every week and everybody sees that. I don't really have a different plan for the rest of the season. We just go at it every week and give it 100 percent and that's all you can do. No different strategy for the second half of the season.
"I think a rookie is going to win a race before the season is over. I hope it's me. I feel pretty pumped that we'll win a race before the season is over, but there's a couple other guys who have run pretty well at some of these tracks. Every year is different. You can't compare last year to this year. There's been so many changes with bodies, and if a team hits on something they're good. It's tough to compare that, and I knew it was going to happen this year, but it's a different year and it's hard to compare 1999 to 2003 or even 2002 to 2003. I know Jimmie has been in the top 10 in points since Atlanta last year. I saw that stat last night. I know we're not real good in points but I feel like we're running well and it's just going to get better. Hopefully we can live up to the standard Jimmie and Ryan set last year, but if we can't, it's so hard to compare rookies from a few years ago until now.
"There's nothing you can do about it. If you look at it, there's nothing different you can do from what you're doing right now. If Ryan and Jimmie had finished 30th in the points I wouldn't be looking at that and saying that's all we've got to do. Every week you go and try to win and that's just what you do. The guy who's dead last in points right now is going every week trying to win. He just can't get the job done.
"My Busch team bought a new air conditioner that's got one of those new charcoal filters in it. It's so much different because the Busch races are shorter and it's harder to compare but I've seen a couple of things. I haven't seen the one NASCAR is working on. I've seen one that goes in a cool box and I've seen another charcoal filter that goes in an in-line blower fan, like a three-inch fan.
"I think what you don't see in the first 10 races is if you have a guy who's had two or three bad races already because he's got caught up in an accident or had motors break. He might not be real good in points, but you might see somebody come back. Ryan Newman is a good example. The guy started out 43rd in points and he was eighth a few races ago. He's had bad luck the past few weeks and now he's back in 25th. I think you'll see the points stir around a little bit because I think there's a few guys in the top 10, all they've done is be real consistent but maybe not consistently up front. I think that's a fair assessment that you can look at the first quarter of the season and judge the rest of the season off it.
"I think I was more disappointed afterwards. If you run 10th all day, like in my Busch car, I ran 10th-15th all day and I wound up sixth. I was thrilled after the race because I finished better than my car was capable of finishing. In the Cup race on the other hand, I felt like I had just about the fastest car all day. The other half just didn't work out so I ended up finishing fifth. It's so hard to win one of these races, so when you're leading the race with 15 laps to go, all you can do is go backwards because you're already leading it. Then you end up fifth. That's disappointing to a driver or anybody to lose spots at the end of the race. All I was doing was trying to keep from crying and not saying what I thought. I'm still having a blast. Before the race I was smiling just like normal, but I was probably just a little disappointed in myself that I went from first to fifth in about 15 laps.
"Glover said if your car starts out good hang on because more than likely by the end of the race it's not going to be. The race track changes to much. I think Rusty probably ran into the same thing I did. When your car is that good, you don't want to change it. If you change it and it's not as good, you'll shoot yourself in the foot. Why would I mess up a good thing? On the other side, you've got to change it a little bit because the race track is going to change. If you watch guys that dominate the beginning of Cup races don't win. They end up finishing fifth or eighth. When your car is pretty good but not as good as other guys, you're not scared to take a chance and adjust on it and try something. You've got nothing to lose. You might lose a few spots, but you're trying to win a race. It's tough when you're the best car in the beginning to know what to adjust on and what not to overadjust on to make it good at the end.
"That kind of shocked me, too (five Dodges in Top 10 at California). At the beginning of the year I felt we were at a disadvantage. That's pretty impressive to have five in the top 10, especially at a place like California where bodies play a big role.
"We tested Sonoma on Tuesday and Wednesday and I woke up Wednesday morning and had a very sore throat and just a cold I guess. I don't think I had a fever, but just a cold and running nose. I was still trying to get that out of me and was still taking medicine for it. I probably didn't feel 100 percent this weekend, but I felt pretty good. That's just your job. When you get in there, you don't think about being sick. When I was driving I wasn't thinking about not feeling good. All I could think about was what was happening on the race track and what I could do to make my car better. You don't think about not feeling good until you cough or sneeze when you're driving around.
"I think at Texas we came in second and went out 14th or something because a lugnut came off. That's very frustrating. You're punching things inside the car when things like that happen, but I've listened to guys on the radio and heard stories about guys who would pull off pit road and cuss the pit crews. Those guys practice all the time. They practice two or three times a week when it's 100 degrees outside they still practice. It's not like they wake up every morning and say, 'we're going to wait until that last pit stop and then really screw it up so we can make him mad.' They give it 100 percent, too. I just always try to say good job, no matter what, after the pit stop. If something bad happens, then you don't say anything, but we've got a new pit crew. Our whole team is new. I don't think it's expected for a brand new pit crew to beat Jeff Gordon's pit crew or Dale Jarrett's when they've been together for a long time. We had pretty good pit stops this weekend. They weren't the best pit stops at the race track, but they were really good for our team. I felt like our team maintained our spot each time. We're just going to get better. It just takes time.
"I'm looking forward going back to Charlotte, but you see guys that run well in the spring and then go back in the fall and struggle. I don't know if you can go there overconfident or feeling better, but you feel good about going back to a track you just won at, and you go with a setup you can start with. With the new rule changes with the bodies, I don't know what we ran with last year's setups is going to be good. I feel comfortable with that race track whereas when we go to somewhere like Pocono this year, I've never been there, so you can rule out trying to learn a race track you already know. What makes me feel really good is we're taking the same car that we ran at Rockingham, Texas and last week at California. We're taking a really good car, and you know the race track because you won there. You just have to make everything work for that one weekend."