(May 14, 2008) – Less than two months away from defending his Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola victory, Jamie McMurray was part of a trio of drivers participating in a two-day Goodyear tire test on Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.
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For the past two days, McMurray, who wheels a Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, was joined by Mike Skinner in the No. 84 Red Bull Racing Toyota and Petty Enterprises driver Bobby Labonte in a Gillett-Evernham Motorsports Dodge in testing different tire compounds and structures for Goodyear in preparation for the 50th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola scheduled for Saturday night, July 5.
“I guess they had some tire concerns with the tire we had here in February,” McMurray said. “We’ve got three teams here. One team is working with the construction of the tire. I guess the side wall construction. Then one team is working on compounds. We’re just doing the test with the load sensors to let them know how much load is on the car whether you have an aggressive type front-end set up or just a standard setup. There are three teams here with three different objectives.”
In last July’s Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola at DIS, McMurray picked up his first Sprint Cup Series win since October of 2002, a losing streak of 166 races. He used to some cleaver side drafting coming out of Turn 4 to nip Kyle Busch at the start/finish line by .005 seconds, the second closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.
As the defending champion of the upcoming Independence Day holiday classic, McMurray was honored to be included in the Goodyear tire test at DIS.
“It’s exciting to come back to Daytona,” McMurray said. “I came back here for the go-kart race in December and that was the first time I was back since winning (in July). Daytona is special to all of the drivers because this is the biggest race of the year for us. I got to my hotel room last night and the 1978 Daytona 500 was being replayed on television. Daytona just has a lot of history and it’s a great place to come back to.”
“A lot of guys will joke around and say it’s boring, but with the size of the restrictor plate that we have on the car to run 47-second lap times, it’s pretty thrilling to go around. It’s kind of fun to do that. With the other car running regular speed, it’s not that exciting but if the team is learning something, that’s kind of all part of it.”
McMurray will try to join Fireball Roberts, A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Tony Stewart as the sixth driver to notch back-to-back victories in the 50th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on Saturday night, July 5, part of a triple header of races on the Independence Day holiday weekend at “The World Center of Racing.”
During the lunch break, McMurray, who first raced at DIS in go-karts in the 1990s, looked back on last year’s thrilling last-lap finish.
“I’ve been really close to winning at the Speedways,” McMurray said. “I think I finished second two or three times prior to winning here. Speedway races are a little bit of luck getting yourself in that right position. For me (last July) being able to be on the outside on the white flag lap with all the cars lined up. It’s a little bit different at Daytona because at Talladega, you can make it three or four wide or however many wide you want where handling is so important at Daytona. (At Daytona), once you get two wide and the tires are old, it’s really hard for that guy behind you to split you and make it three wide. If you can be on the outside, that seems to be the place to be on the last lap off Turn 4.”
Tickets and packages for the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered By Coca-Cola, which also includes the seventh annual Winn-Dixie 250 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the 27th Brumos Porsche 250 Rolex Seres race, are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.