Jamie McMurray & Jeff Burton Discuss Two-Car Drafts

(HHP/Gregg Ellman)

Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet and Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet spoke with the media today and went into more depth about two-car drafts.  Take a look at what they had to say.

Q: How much more are you relying on your spotter here (Daytona) when you are the trailing car in the two-car drafts? 

 Jamie McMurray: “It is more than ever and I think that your spotter has to be a racer in order to anticipate what the lead car is going to do. I thought, Loren Ranier spots for me, I always said that what made him a great spotter is that he can stand up there and watch the race unfold and he’s really good at reading other drivers and kind of knowing what to anticipate. He did a great job Saturday night. It was our first race back together since being at Roush and it took the first 25 laps to get used to it, and then I felt like once I got hooked up with Kurt (Busch), he did a really good job at anticipating what he thought Kurt would do and where he would go. When you are locked together, if you are on the bottom of the track and he says ‘I think Kurt is going to pass them on the outside’, as soon as he would say that, I would move my front bumper to the right rear of Kurt’s car so that when Kurt made the move, I was centered up with him. That is important because when you watch it on TV and you see the cars zigging and zagging back and forth, if you misjudge that, it will be a wreck. I think the spotters are more important with the two-car drafts than at any other time.”

Q: Nascar said with the first changes announced that 206mph was a little too fast and they didn’t want to see the prolonged hookups.  If what they have put into effect works and causes people to separate a lot quicker, is it possible that will discourage the two-car hookup entirely? 

Jamie McMurray: “No, not at all because you can just go so much quicker when you get hooked up. I think what you guys will see is guys practicing that exchange enough that we will get it down where you can exchange in one corner and not lose much time. Juan and I only practiced it 10 times and the 10th time was really good. I think when we get in the race and guys get used to it, I think we will be able to get the swap down so it happens really fast. You just do it. The issue with the exchange will be the other factors on the track. Whether it is a single car on the bottom of the track. I know in the Shootout, there were a couple of guys that didn’t have a partner and we lapped them. When you catch those cars, it really messes up if you have to do the exchange in that corner, that makes it harder. Or, if you have to do the exchange when someone else is doing it in the same corner, that is where the mistakes will be made. I think by the end of today, guys are going to be able to do that exchange a lot faster than they were.  I think it is about one second a lap to do the exchange, but I don’t know honestly. But Juan and I did one of them, actually by accident the other day and it was kind of seamless. It just happened really fast and I couldn’t believe how quickly we got hooked back up. The guys haven’t done it very much and I think once we do it more you will be shocked about how fast we will be able to get hooked up.”

(HHP/Gregg Ellman)

Q: Because of the two-car draft and the rule changes this year, do you think maybe there is more value on tomorrow’s race?

Jeff Burton:“Every year we come down here there is something different. Between not testing, for several years now we’ve come down here not tested so that made the 150’s real important. A few years ago we came down here with the Car of Tomorrow that made the 150’s extremely important. I think the 150’s are always exceptionally important. I will say that I think we are in a steep learning curve with the two-car draft, trying to make that thing work. We’ve seen certainly glimpses of it at Talladega, but never before has the entire garage put the effort into it that they’ve put into this. So we’re trying to learn it at a really quick rate. Like I said a little bit ago the 150 is a great opportunity to learn. Sitting here today I would say yeah there is more to learn today than it ever has been but I would have said that last year too.”

Q:  Can you talk about the specific challenges of these two-car drafts in terms of not being able to hook up with the person you might want to hook up with, the lack of visibility, not being able to run three cars in a row?

Jeff Burton: “It sounds like you know all the challenges. What are you asking me for? (laughter) When it’s just two of you and you’re leading the pack or you’re not running a pack down at a great deal of speed, there’s not a whole lot going into it. It requires a lot of trust by the guy that’s doing the pushing, because the guy that’s being pushed is leading you into whatever it’s leading you into and literally you cannot see at all. So that makes it very difficult. We have to communicate really well. Of course that’s hard to do. You can’t see through the windshield, so you can’t see the hand signals so there’s a certain amount of trust involved. When it really gets busy is when you start to catch people and the reason that gets busy is because again as the guy being pushed you are making the determination of where you are going to go and the guy that’s doing the pushing just has to go with you. If anything at all happens in front of you, it’s a little easier to slow yourself down than it is another guy with 3500 pounds pushing you. So there’s a lot of things going on there and it gets really difficult in those situations. When it comes times to put the checkered down, the pushing gets more intense, the blocking gets more intense, all those thing intensify and the guy that’s pushing you cannot see it. So there’s pretty high pressure felt to be quite honest. I know it may not look on television as pressure as a 30-car pack, but when you’re being pushed and the guy behind you can’t see you and you’re catching these people at an accelerated rate, things happen and things happen quickly. So there’s a lot going on. Saturday night was a lot of fun, but it was also real tense at times.”