Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, has had four top 10 finishes in the last six races and sits 12th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. McMurray held his weekly Q&A session prior to Friday's practice ...
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, has had four top 10 finishes in the last six races and sits 12th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. McMurray held his weekly Q&A session prior to Friday's practice session.
JAMIE MCMURRAY -- No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY AND HOW NASCAR WILL VIEW WHAT YOU SAY IF YOU GIVE YOUR HONEST OPINION? "I think when they interviewed Tony they obviously got him at a bad time. He was upset, but what he said and to say that it's a privilege to have the media interview you, I'm not real sure where he got that at. I think everyone, whether you have Crown Royal or who your sponsors are, that's why they're here is to get the publicity and have their driver get publicity. It's almost the opposite way. I think for the media to come interview you is a big deal."
ON HIS RADIO SHOW HE SAID SOMETHING ABOUT JUST THROWING DEBRIS CAUTIONS TO CLOSE THE FIELD. DO YOU WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY AND HOW NASCAR WILL VIEW IT? "Well, if you're gonna say something like that. Tony has also said what he thinks, but I don't know what he was thinking when he said that. It's just Tony being Tony."
SHOULD THERE BE A DISCUSSION ABOUT CAUTION FLAGS? "I don't know. I think everyone wonders sometimes like, 'What was the caution for?' And everyone has joked around about that, but NASCAR, typically when they throw a caution it's more than likely for a safety reason. If you don't benefit from the caution or if the caution hurts you because you're on pit road, you get upset over that because you give your hardest all weekend and if you get in the race and things don't go your way, you get upset about it."
THE NEXT TIME HERE AT TALLADEGA YOU'LL BE IN THE COT. HOW WILL THAT CHANGE THINGS? "It won't be much different. We tested the car of tomorrow here last year and basically just found out what size restrictor plate we needed, and the cars didn't really drive any different. Talladega is so smooth that handling is not an issue in any kind of a car here. You don't really need to even put tires on. The tires seem to last forever and there's not any concerns with it, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal."
A LOT OF ATTENTION HAS GONE TO GORDON AND STEWART. YOU'VE KIND OF BEEN UNDER THE RADAR, HAVING A GOOD, SOLID SEASON. DO YOU LIKE THAT? "Yeah, you certainly would like to be in their position where you've won three or four races and be a good reason to have the media on you, but, with all the restructuring that we went through over the winter, I'm very pleased with our performance so far this year and it certainly should get better from here on out. As a team we've started to learn and know more about each other and we're building really good cars. We had a little bit of bad luck at Phoenix, but, for the most part, we've had pretty good luck this year."
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, has five top-5 and six top-10 finishes in the first eight races of 2007 and ranks third in the point standings. Kenseth, who has one win on the season (California) held his Q&A session before practice on Friday.
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IS THERE ANY STRATEGY OR IS IT ALL LUCK AT THIS PLACE? "A little bit of both. The key is to have a fast race car. If your car is fast enough, you can stay up in that lead group and hopefully stay out of some of the trouble. The last couple of years our cars have been a lot faster and we've been able to stay up front. The farther forward you can stay, the better chance you have of being out of trouble."
TONY STEWART GOT IN SOME TROUBLE FOR COMMENTS ABOUT DEBRIS CAUTION. DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THINGS YOU SAY AND HOW NASCAR WILL COME DOWN ON YOU? "Well, here's a great answer for that, I don't have an answer for it. I don't really have anything to gain by even talking about that. It's not really my deal."
CHEVY HAS WON ALL BUT ONE RACE. WHY? "I'm glad I'm the race that they didn't win, but we've just got to get our stuff running better. I think all the rules are so close to the same, I really have a hard time believing that one manufacturer would have a big advantage or disadvantage over anybody else. I think everybody is pretty close to the same, we just have to make our stuff better. We've just got to get running better as a group and keep working on it."
DO YOU THINK CHEVY HAS A STRONGER GROUP OF DRIVERS OR IS IT JUST ONE OF THOSE FLUKE THINGS? "Drivers, no. I think, like any other sport, it's a team sport. I've seen Jeff Gordon win 12-15 races a year and I've seen him barely win a race in a year and struggle and not make the chase a couple years ago. So, obviously, it's about the driver, but it's also about the cars and the teams and the pit stops and the preparation. It's about all that stuff like it's always been. They've got a lot of good teams. Obviously Hendrick has won most of the races and the 48 has been the team to beat for years, and if you get the 24 running like that, they're gonna be tough too, so we've just got to make our stuff better."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT TALLADEGA THAT MAKES THE HAIR ON YOUR NECK RISE? "We're all just stuck in a big glob. We're running wide open, but for the race track and how smooth it is and how much grip there is, we're not going very fast relative to how big the track is, so nobody can get away from anybody and you're just three and four-wide and stuck in a big glob the whole time, so you know if there is a wreck, most likely, you're gonna be caught up in it."
HOW ABOUT YOUR TEAM THIS YEAR? "The team has been doing great. I think we need to make our cars a little bit better, but I think my race team has been doing great. I think they've been preparing the stuff, it's been real reliable. It's been pretty fast and we've been finishing good and having good pit stops, so it's a case of so far, so good."
GORDON WON FOR THE 76TH TIME LAST WEEK. WILL THOSE HIGH TOTALS BE REACHED AGAIN? "You wouldn't think so, but I don't know. Who knows? You would think that how long the drivers in the sport would be starting to shrink a little bit as the schedule grows and the drivers come in younger and doing all that stuff, but who knows? You've got Kyle Busch at 21 years old winning races and obviously they have a long time they could race if they wanted to, so I think that's too hard to predict. Obviously, I don't think anybody will ever beat the 200 number, but, certainly, Jeff has the potential to get to number two on the list."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON CAUTIONS? "From the car it's hard to see everything that goes on, so I don't really have a big opinion on it. Sometimes it's nice for the fans and for everybody to get the cars bunched back up and make the racing good, so I think it's a tough job for NASCAR. It depends on the position the cars are. There are always people saying, you know if somebody needs a caution they're always on the radio saying there's debris out there and some may not want it, even if they do see it, there's no debris out there. It's a tough thing for them to do and I think they do a pretty good job of keeping it as fair as they can."
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, has posted six straight top 20 finishes and is eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. He spoke about this weekend between Friday's two practices.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
IS 198 MPH TOO FAST? "In practice sometimes you'll see that high number because a guy will be getting up to speed and then get a great run. I don't know if that's where that time came from, but, to me, it feels like as far as driving that the track is really smooth. The Goodyears are gripping really great, so it doesn't feel very fast. I know when they get sideways in the grass and flying up in the air it looks a lot faster, but it feels good."
DO YOU FORESEE A POSSIBLE PLATE CHANGE LIKE WITH THE BUSCH SERIES? "They probably wouldn't do it before qualifying, they'd probably do it here in the next couple of minutes, but I haven't heard anything about it yet. In the Busch Series what happened was right at the end of practice they called all the crew chiefs over and they changed the plate, which, if that's what they decide to do -- we're so far under the potential speed that you could run around here that a couple of miles an hour, if that makes it safer for the fans, that's fine with me."
HOW WILL THIS RACE BE DIFFERENT THAN THE FALL? "The biggest thing is this track was big enough and the restrictor plates made it such that you could already run really close together and now you can just run even closer together. You have so much control out there with the pavement being so smooth and the track being so big. Just a minute ago we were four-wide and it really wasn't even an issue, so I think it'll just be an even crazier last lap if that's possible."
THE HENDRICK TEAMS HAVE WON A LOT HERE. "Yeah, the Hendrick cars run really well here. Our Roush-Yates cars have run pretty well here, but it's been hit and miss. I've had great cars here. When Dale Jarrett won the race here two years ago I felt like the Fords were really great there, but you never know. The complexion of these races can change lap to lap and we'll just see how it goes."
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO TONY'S COMMENTS ABOUT DEBRIS CAUTIONS? "I think it's important to be able to speak your mind about things and that's how he felt about it. He said what he said, but, I don't know. Every driver in this garage has had days where you're like, 'Where did that caution come from?' and been frustrated, but we've had them go good for us, too. It is what it is."
-credit: ford racing