Jamie McMurray third at Phoenix


It’s been quite a week in Phoenix for Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Ford Fusion: He proposed to his longtime girlfriend on Monday, and finished in third place at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, after qualifying second on Friday. McMurray led twice during the race for 28 laps. Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford Fusion, remains in second place in the standings, but is now 141 points behind Jimmie Johnson heading into next week’s season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Johnson started from the pole and won at PIR, leading a race-high 217 of 313 laps. David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 Ford Fusion, finished 10th, his fifth top-10 in his last seven races.

JAMIE McMURRAY – No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford Fusion (finished 3rd) – “It’s been a fun week. When the race started, I really though that we might have the car to beat. I got by Jimmie on the outside and was able to somewhat check out. And then when I got back in traffic, I think we re-started, like, fourth or fifth – you get so tight when you get behind guys. An I thought if they could ever get me back out front, I’ll be able to drive away from those guys. But, our car got tighter as the day went on. The run right before I was in the lead with Jimmie behind me on one of those re-starts, and our car was as good as it had been, and then it just went really tight all of a sudden. So, they just did a better job on adjusting on their car and getting it better as the race went on. Still, it was a really solid weekend for our team.” YOU’VE BEEN RUNNING BETTER IN RECENT WEEKS. HOW MUCH DOES OF A LIFT DOES THIS GIVE YOU GOING INTO THE OFF-SEASON? AND, IS IT SOMETHING YOU CAN CARRY FORWARD IN 2009? “I think for any of the teams, if you run well at the end of the season, that team is going to run well when next season starts, and the way our schedule is laid out, a lot of the tracks that you run the last 10 races – Fontana and Bristol, Richmond – a lot of those races you run towards the beginning of the season. I think the tone of your season gets set in those first five races. If you look at the guys in the first five who were in the top-10 in points they still are. To end this year strong is super-important, because you’re going to start the next season hopefully where you’ve left off.” NATIONAL TELEVISION CUT AWAY WITH ABOUT 30 LAPS TO GO AND SWITCHED TO AMERICA’S FAVORITE HOME VIDEOS. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT? “I don’t know that I would be the guy to answer that. It seems a little odd to me, as big as NASCAR is and as many people watch this sport. I can’t imagine being a race fan and being on the East Coast and trying to watch this and then going to that. Obviously, if the President was going to talk, or maybe if something big had happened, but I can’t imagine America’s Funniest Home Videos would take priority over us. I mean, I like that show, but I’d rather watch the race, you know?” YOU LOST PEOPLE OFF YOUR CREW BEFORE THE START OF THE CHASE. YOU’VE REBOUNDED STRONG IN THE LAST NINE OR SO RACES. HOW DOES THIS SET UP THINGS FOR NEXT YEAR? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO WORK ON? “It’s very frustrating for me. I told Robbie Reiser that whenever they called, not to ask, but to tell me what was going on. It’s easy to talk to Robbie because he was a crew chief at one time. I just asked him, ‘If you were the crew chief of this team, what would say to this?’ And he was like, ‘I wouldn’t want that.’ It’s tough because that has certainly hurt our pit stops, and at Dover, I don’t know if it cost you the win, but it cost us another really good run because we got back in traffic, and the way he explained that to me is that if next season, if I’m in the Chase, and somebody’s not at Roush, that if I needed somebody off that team, they’d would give it to me, if it was just based on the guys in the Chase and the guys that aren’t. And so I kind of understand that, but at the same time, for me, I’m doing everything I can and along with everybody on the team, and with Crown Royal and with IRWIN, it seems odd that you would take away from them to help someone else. I guess it’s because I got the short straw, too. And they’ve told me that, you know, part of this process was trying guys out for next year, to get them ready. It’s really tough for the two tire changers that they’ve brought over – they’ve never worked with any of these guys. And some of these pit crews have been together for years. I know the 48 team has been together for a long time. And you can expect somebody to just jump in, and and do better than those teams have been together for a long time. So, hopefully, we’ll be able to get that worked out. We had bad pit stops at the beginning, but the last two were really good – I beat cars out of the pits. So, the guys are certainly more than capable of doing it. It’s just maybe being a little more consistent. But, they did a good job at the end.” ARE YOU FIGHTING FOR ONE OF THOSE FOUR SPOTS AT ROUSH IN 2010? “I don’t know that there’s a fight there. It was never acknowledged to me that, ‘This is what the game plan is,’ or if it’s the lowest car in points. No one’s ever said that. And I’ve never asked. I don’t know how that’s going to work, so I don’t know if there’s anything to fight for. Maybe that’s already set in stone. I don’t know that. You guys should ask Jack, he’ll probably have an answer.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion (finished 4th) – YOU DID EVERYTHING YOU COULD DO… “Close, we could’ve won the thing, that would’ve been better, but Jimmie’s doing a great job. If he would have some real terrible luck in Homestead, we still have a chance. But, they did their jobs tonight, we did the best we could – it’s just too big of a spread right now.”

WHAT WAS THE PHRASE YOU USED? “IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE, BUT…” “It’s possible, not probable, but possible. My guys did a good job and we’ll see what happens.”

CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH YOUR RUN? “The track was real slippery, it was real hard to pass. Qualifying, I think, was real important, and we didn’t qualify as well as we could’ve. But, we had a really good car, and maybe if this was a 400- or 500-lap race it’d be different, but that’s what it is.”

HOW POSSIBLE ARE YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES NOW? “It’s possible, not real probable, but I guarantee that’s not going to change the way we do business, we’re going to go to Homestead with everything we’ve got and be aggressive and try to win the race. Mile-and-halfs have been our best tracks lately, and I just wish we could’ve run a little better here. But, we ran pretty well, we just didn’t have enough time. We kept barely marching forward, my guys did a really good job. Congratulations to Jimmie and those guys. They’re making this really tough.”

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ON THE RE-START? “I was just hoping Jimmie had forgotten how to shift gears or something. Those guys did a good job and we did the best we could. They’re just on it right now.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion (finished 10th) – “It was a good run for us. We started out average and our AAA team just had good pit stops all day. It seemed like every run we picked up a spot and a spot there, and then at the of the race we were 12th or 13th and our car was as good as it had been all day there at the end, and things just worked out. I think [Greg] Biffle was just probably a little quicker than us at the end, but we were a little quicker than a couple of cars in front of us, so it just worked out. We didn’t have the best car but we put in a good effort, and the results show.”

MOST OF THE RACE FEATURED LONG GREEN-FLAG RUNS, AND THEN AT THE END IT WAS CAUTION AFTER CAUTION AFTER CAUTION? HOW WAS YOU CAR UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS? “Our car was a little better on the long runs. Those other guys could kind of show their muscle for a few laps, and then we’d settle in and could  get ’em back. But, we were very fortunate that we had good pit stops and made positive adjustments on the car. We never went the wrong way, so that was a good feeling.”

DAVID GILLILAND – Digital TV Transition Ford Fusion (finished 35th) – It was wild. Everybody started checking up there, and unfortunately our Digital TV Transition Ford Fusion got involved in it and ended our day. So, we’re going to try and get it fixed and get back out there. It was one of those change reaction deals. It looked like somebody got in the back of somebody out there, and maybe the 5 car got a little loose, and the rest was just ‘hang on.’ It was real hard to get whoa’d up . I got in the back of the 77 and then Scott Speed got in the back of me pretty hard – you can see where his car ended up, underneath our car. It was an unfortunate ending to our day, but we’ll pick the pieces here and hopefully get it back out there for a couple of laps, and head to Homestead and try to have a good weekend there.”