LAS VEGAS, NEV. (March 2, 2008) – Roush Fenway Racing driver Jamie McMurray began charging through the field immediately after the drop of the green flag in the UAW-Dodge 400 this afternoon. After quickly picking up six positions, McMurray was involved in an early incident that sent the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion spinning down the frontstretch. While the No. 26 machine returned quickly to the race, McMurray was never able regain the positions lost due to extensive damage to the engine. The unfortunate luck left the No. 26 team with a 25th-place finish in this afternoon’s race.
Entering Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the No. 26 team qualified 36th for the 267-lap event around the 1.5-mile speedway.
Before a sellout crowd of 153,000 fans, the green flag dropped at 1:49pm Pacific time. McMurray started from the 36th position and by lap three had already picked a handful of positions on the track. On lap 8, as the field exited turn four, McMurray was pushed toward the bottom of the track and as he maneuvered around the other cars, lost control of his racecar and was sent spinning down the frontstretch.
Crew chief Larry Carter immediately called McMurray down pit road, where the No. 26 crew quickly assessed the damaged and determined the best course of action. After changing four tires and fixing the right front fender, the No. 26 Ford Fusion was back on the track. However, as the No. 26 machine worked down the backstretch, while still under caution, Carter noticed what appeared to be a header and tailpipe which come off the car. Carter again called McMurray down pit road for another look at the car. After determining the damage could not be repaired, McMurray returned to the race in the 40th position.
Over the course of the next run, it was determined that McMurray had knocked an exhaust header pipe off the car. The missing piece off the car left the No. 26 machine down on horsepower compared to the other cars on the track. After determining that fixing the problem would leave the No. 26 team down a number of laps, the decision was made to press on and make the best of the situation.
When the caution flag flew on lap 68 for debris, McMurray came down pit road for service to the front splitter, which also suffered damage during the early race incident. Following the pit stop, McMurray was shown in 28th place on the leader board.
By the midpoint of the race, McMurray raced his way into the 23rd position, but was scored a lap down after being passed by the leader earlier during a green flag pit stop.
The Crown Royal team continued to work on their machine throughout the remaining laps of the race the lack of horsepower made it difficult to gain on the field. When the checkered flag flew for Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards, the No. 26 machine came across the start/finish line in the 25th position.
“After our spin across the front of the track, we weren’t really left with much we could work on to make our No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion faster this afternoon,” said McMurray in the garage following the race. “From what we can tell, the header was broken off the car when we made such a hard impact. With that, we were down a lot on horsepower and just not able to gain on the other guys. We’d be able to race up to them, but wouldn’t be able to get around them. We’ll have to take this one and move on to next week, where hopefully we can have a better run for everyone.”
After a two-day test at Phoenix International Raceway on Monday and Tuesday of this week, the No. 26 team travels next weekend to Atlanta, Ga. This will be the first weekend the No. 26 team will don their blue and yellow IRWIN Industrial Tools colors in 2008. Entering next weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the No. 26 team is scored 26th in the Sprint Cup point standings.
Kobalt Tools 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.5-mile speedway)
Sunday, March 9, 2008
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun and Joey Clanton; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.