Rockingham: Dodge - McMurray qualifying press conference

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid) -- Highest qualifying rookie "Rockingham is probably one of my favorite tracks just judging off my starts and finishes. It's been just about my best track, so it has good reason to be. I'm excited...

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid) -- Highest qualifying rookie

"Rockingham is probably one of my favorite tracks just judging off my starts and finishes. It's been just about my best track, so it has good reason to be. I'm excited about this weekend again. I had a good qualifying effort in the Busch car and the Cup car. Really we made all race runs in the Busch car, never made qualifying runs, so that was a little bit unexpected. I feel like we're going to have a great car on Monday or whenever we get to come back and race.

"We came here and tested in the Cup car a few weeks ago and I think we went through 15 sets of tires. I think we made all long runs, 60-lap runs on every set of tires. If we don't get to practice it's not going to be totally disappointing to me because I think we have a good starting point.

"It's cool to get to have my own team. I had just finally learned everybody's name on the 40 team and became friends with those guys and then had to start all over. This is a completely new group of guys. Very few of them had worked at Ganassi's before. I'm really just getting to know all those guys. They're really pretty cool. We've had a good time going testing. We've tested at Rockingham, Daytona, Talladega, Vegas, Lakeland. When we first went to Lakeland, it was our first test together, we came in to change the swaybar and nobody could find them. Nobody had worked together and no one knew where anything was. We've come a long way the last few months and learned and I feel like everybody works well together. Most teams I've been with there's always been like one bad apple, one guy that couldn't get along with everybody else. The group of guys I have now, I think they're all as excited as I am to get the chance with Havoline and Chip and Felix to get to be with one of the premiere teams in Winston Cup.

"We have all the same tools, obviously. The difference will be if Donnie (crew chief Wingo) and I can work together. I'm going through it with two teams this year, my Busch team and Cup team, never working with the crew chief. Of course it's not what the 40 team is. Those guys have been together so long. I can remember coming in and changing something last year and one guy would be working on the sway bar and the other guy would know what he was thinking and go grab the tool before he'd ever ask for it. They've worked together so long. They know each other. It's just going to take time. My guys want that, and I don't know that every team out here does. It's bad to say, but I think some guys don't totally believe in their driver or don't totally believe they have the best of everything. I think all my guys do. There's no better equipment out there, and that's really a good situation to be in because with my Busch team last year, I didn't think our bodies were as good or I thought our engines might be a little bit down. When I drove the 40 car last year, there's just really not any excuses. It's all my fault if something doesn't happen. There's no way you can assemble a group of guys that's going to be as good as the 40 team. That was a championship team last year. It's just going to take a little time, but I think the will power is there for everybody to want to be the best.

"We just did a deal for Fox. They had Casey and me making pancakes and bacon for Sterling. Sterling will play along. Casey and I came here and tested for two days and went through something like $30,000 worth of tires and Sterling outqualified both of us and ran like two laps. He's fun because he'll play along. He's always trying to play a joke on you, and he makes it real easy. There's no jealousy there with Casey and I being younger and coming in and getting a lot of the attention. Sterling is just doing his own deal. He's just a fun guy to be around.

"After we tested at Talladega, Andy (Graves) told me and Casey and Donnie Wingo and Jimmy Elledge, because we were all brand new, it was our second test together, he was like we're going to have a cell phone call with Chip in the van. We had a big team van. We all piled in and Andy got in there also. Andy is on his phone acting like he was talking to Chip. Sterling wasn't in there yet. Sterling had thrown a quarter stick of dynamite under the van we were sitting in. It was dark. When it went off the whole van shook and flames were shooting out both sides. It about killed everyone in there. Donnie was almost mad. He's not into jokes like. Sterling was outside laughing. He's always doing stuff like that.

"I think we're going to be OK. I don't want to jinx us, but the fact I won a race last year puts me in front of everyone that's 35th and back in points. I think previous race winners will be ahead of rookies. Even though we don't have any points we're in a pretty good situation. There were only 43 cars here I didn't have anything to lose. Even if I had a really bad lap, I don't think I was going to be 43rd. Plus, we had tested here, and anytime you go test, you're going to qualify pretty good.

"I may be a little bit different than other guys even though I'm outgoing and friendly. I don't really have a personal or off-track relationship with any of the other drivers, a little bit maybe with Jimmie Johnson, but I just kind of keep to myself. When I'm not at the race track, I have Cielo (Garcia, girlfriend). We just hang out together. I know Casey is really good friends with Jimmie and Jeff and they hang out together away from the race track, but as far as me, I don't really want to make friends with someone you're racing against. I really don't want make friends with anybody. I want it to be all business. It's OK to talk to them, but I don't want develop a personal friendship too close to anybody. This happens every time. Every weekend you're pitting in a different spot, and who ever I become buddies with that weekend, I end up hitting them on the race track. I don't know why, but something happens before we get tight. I just try to stay away from everybody now.

"I was disappointed last night that we qualified seventh. I thought we would be better. I went back last night and told Cielo that Mark Martin is a racer. He qualified third, and he was just joking around, but he wanted to be first. He has the drive to want to do well, and I think that's why he's been so successful. I think I have that, too. I'd be disappointed with second. I always want to be the best.

"I hide when I'm not in a good mood. When things aren't going well for me, I just make sure I'm not exposed to anything. I'm not always happy. I try to make the most and be the happiest I can be in certain situations, but as Jason, my PR guy, or Cielo will tell you, I'm not always fun to hang out with. When things are bad, they know to stay away. It takes a little while. You need 10 minutes to have some time to think about it. I know I always joke around when I come in here, but since you guys have got to know me, since I got in the 40 car, it really hasn't been bad for me. Phoenix is the only bad race I had. I don't know that you've seen bad times with me yet.

"If it wasn't for my dad, I wouldn't be where I am. I'm sure like everyone here, my dad drives me crazy. He just wears you out. I ask a lot of questions, and I know where I get it from, because my dad is always asking me a lot of questions. He's driving my motorhome this year. If he drives it all year, he'll be at all the races. He was actually at Charlotte last year when I won. My family gave up so much for me to be in racing. To continue my go-kart career and up to stock cars. That was the ultimate payback, I thought, was at Charlotte, my dad getting to be there for my first win. I remember standing in victory lane and about three beers later I was drunk and screaming for all the photographers. Seeing my dad on the front row holding the No. 1 finger up, I thought that was so cool him getting to be there. My dad just happened to come that weekend, then to win and getting to share that with him was pretty neat.

"Even though they talk about tire wear at Rockingham and Darlington, this is one of the easiest race tracks to race at to me. If you catch a guy, you can pass him in one corner. You don't even really have to race him. If you're better, there are two grooves here, and you don't necessarily have to set your car up for one or the other. You can run on the top or bottom and it's extremely easy to pass here. If it had rained qualifying out, I was worried a little bit, but you can pass here. I love this place. This is the best race track of any of them to go to. They could blow Darlington up. I'm not much into Darlington. I don't care for that at all. I hate that place. That's probably why I'm running my Busch car at places like Darlington that I don't like. It's so easy to get out of a Cup car, and there's not a big difference in speed but there feels like there is. When I get out of the Cup car and get back in the Busch car, things happen so much slower. Hopefully I'll figure out Darlington this time when we go back. I like Kansas. I like the fact we go everywhere, but this is one of the best places to race, here and Charlotte.

"When they told me Chip and Felix were going to talk to me about driving the car, that was really big. When they told me Texaco was going to be the sponsor... Of all the cars I can remember, of course the STP and Goodwrench car were there, but I can't imagine getting a better sponsor. Everybody knows the history behind that (Havoline) car. And to think they took a chance on a guy who hadn't won a Busch or truck race. I know they thought Chip was crazy. I think they were second guessing him a little bit, but hopefully they're excited now. I can't imagine having a different sponsor.

"When Steve Park got hurt at Darlington last year, I remember making the comment that if I ever got to Winston Cup I'd never run Busch because I didn't want to jeopardize my main job for fun. When I had the opportunity to drive the 40 car, I realized how much it helped me. I think it helps everybody. I think some of those drivers act like it doesn't, but I think it's a huge advantage, especially for a guy like me who doesn't have a lot of time at some of these race tracks. Charlotte was my worse race track. All the time I was getting between the two cars really helped me out. Then we went to Atlanta and it rained out most of practice. I got double the time a lot of guys did because I got Cup practice and Busch practice. I just told Chip and Felix if we could find a Busch ride, I'd love to get to run those tracks. Even though you put yourself in a tough situation of maybe getting hurt on Saturday you take that chance on Sunday also. I just felt the gains from getting to run the Busch race, it was going to help me more than it would ever hurt me.

"This is all I think about every day. I bet I'll ran 300 qualifying laps in my head before coming here. I don't want to say that I'm more focused that other drivers, but I think I'm as focused as anybody. There's nothing else in my life that I think about. This is it. You can't do this without being in great equipment. I think that's why Ryan and Jimmie and some of the other rookies have so much success. The same thing for Casey and I. We got to get in the best equipment the first try. Cars are out there I wouldn't have qualified seventh in, but I have a car that's capable of winning every single week if the crew chief and I are smart enough to make it happen and make all the right calls. It's hard. I remember running the Daytona Busch race the last two years and just being drained mentally from what was going on. Then I got in a Winston Cup car and they run three- wide the whole time. In the Busch race, you run three-wide and then spread out single file. It's not that bad. I had a blast in the Busch race, not that it's easier, but people are so much more aggressive in Winston Cup. You've got about 10 people that are aggressive in Busch and about seven of them are Cup drivers. Then you get in a Cup car and people drive so hard and there are so many good teams and so many great drivers. It's definitely not any easier. It's every bit as hard as I thought. I think I'm just extremely focused and want it so bad."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Steve Park , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin