Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut tomorrow night in the Sam's Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway after qualifying in the 30th position. Jourdain, who has open-wheel experience...
Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut tomorrow night in the Sam's Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway after qualifying in the 30th position. Jourdain, who has open-wheel experience both in the Champ Car World Series and IRL, is transitioning to a NASCAR career with plans to compete in the Busch Series and truck series for the remainder of 2006. In 21 career Busch Series starts, Jourdain posted a career-best finish of 10th at Atlanta Motor Speedway last March. Jourdain, who finished 20th in last year's Busch Series spring race at Texas Motor Speedway, shared his thoughts on the differences between open-wheel and stock cars on oval tracks and his expectations for his truck series debut.
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR-50-Roush Racing Ford F-150
YOU HAVE DRIVEN HERE IN THREE DIFFERENT VEHICLES - A CHAMP CAR, A BUSCH CAR AND NOW A TRUCK. HOW DOES EACH DIFFER, AND WHAT HAVE YOU FELT MOST COMFORTABLE DRIVING? "Of course, the Busch car and the truck are the most similar. What I remember from running here, the Champ Car was just an unbelievable feeling going so fast, but it's been five years ago now, however, it was an amazing experience to go that fast. It was just much easier, and I don't know if it was because I had more experience or what, but it was just so easy flat-out. I think it's as easy to go flat-out here in the open-wheel cars as it is for these cars at Daytona or Talladega. Here, the truck and the Busch car, you really have to drive. I think the frontrunners are saying they're running flat-out here in the trucks. I'm not there yet, but hopefully we'll be able to do it in qualifying. In the Busch car, I think I was even braking and I qualified 11th, so I guess it was not that bad. The three are pretty different, but the Busch car and truck are the most similar."
WITH REGARDS TO TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, WHAT VEHICLE IS EASIER TO CONTROL IN RACE CONDITIONS? "Right now, an open-wheel car because after you run nine years you get more comfortable. In a truck, I haven't run in traffic yet and I haven't done a race. But, in the end, I feel pretty comfortable in both. I feel secure enough and safe in both. After running so many years in a series, you know the competition, you know who's running what car and you know what they do and how they behave, and that's something that I'm still learning. I think last year in the Busch Series, I started learning that and I was starting to know how to run with everybody. Here in the truck series, it's something I have to learn again."
YOU ARE SCHEDULED TO COMPETE IN EIGHT TRUCK SERIES RACES THIS YEAR, BUT MOST OF THEM ARE STANDALONE EVENTS WHERE MARK MARTIN WILL NOT BE PRESENT AS A TEAMMATE. WHO ARE YOU TURNING TO FOR HELP TO GET ACCLIMATED TO THE TRUCKS? "Today I talked with David (Ragan) and Erik (Darnell). They were helpful and they have a lot more experience in these types of vehicles and in the trucks and at these types of tracks, and they are both very good drivers. Today I also talked with Terry Cook because I know him with my involvement with ppc Racing and he runs the rookie meeting, so I talked to him some, too."
WHEN YOU COMPETED IN THE CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES THERE WERE MORE ROAD COURSES THAN OVALS, WHICH IS IN STARK CONTRAST TO NASCAR. AS A DRIVER, ARE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE AT A CERTAIN TYPE OF VENUE? "Both. I had great results in oval racing. In my first Indy 500, I qualified 8th and I was running pretty good until we had a mechanical failure. My third IRL race, I finished second and got my first podium on an oval. I got my first Champ Car win at Milwaukee on an oval. But, I got pole positions on a road course and I got wins at road courses, like Montreal. I feel like I can run on both pretty good. Here in NASCAR, running the Busch car on the road course, I feel like I can be competitive right away. The feel between the open-wheel cars and NASCAR vehicles is so different running on the ovals, and to me the hardest thing is to understand how the car needs to feel to go faster. I could go out in Long Beach and on my first lap tell you what I needed to feel or how the car needed to feel different to be on the pole position. If you get it or not, that's harder. But here, it's something that I'm learning. Last year I ran very good at some races, but right away on my first lap out I was running very good and feeling comfortable with the car and all that. When the car is right right away, I feel like I don't have too much trouble, but that's one in 100 times for everybody, and that's what comes with experience. All of these guys that run these type of cars, they come from Late Models and those types of cars, so you get that feeling, and that's why these kids when they come in and they get with good teams, they run fast right away."
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS FOR TOMORROW NIGHT'S RACE? "Finishing the race and running a good consistent race. I don't want to make any mistakes in the race and just run consistently out there, but running good. I don't want to just finish and finish five laps down. I want to finish and finish good, running competitive, but running with people side-by-side and learning a lot and bringing a complete truck back to the shop."