FONTANA, CALIF. (February 25, 2008) – Jamie McMurray started the Auto Club 500 from the 18th position after qualifying was rained out on Friday afternoon. The rain continued into Saturday’s practice, limiting the teams to only a few runs around the two-mile speedway. After a lengthy delay on Sunday afternoon, and a rainout on Sunday evening, McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal team finished in the 22nd position after fighting a loose handling racecar for most of the postponed 500 mile race.
The weekend in California was filled with more waiting, than actual racing. The No. 26 Crown Royal team unloaded a brand-new chassis on Friday morning. After both practice and qualifying were rained out on Friday, the field was set by the 2007 Owners Points. McMurray would start 18th for Sunday’s Auto Club 500.
After rain showers on Sunday morning, the start of the race was delayed for two hours, while track crews dried the track. Jimmie Johnson led the field to the green flag at 3:32pm Pacific. McMurray took the green flag from the 18th position, and quickly picked up two spots on the speedway. The first pit stop for the No. 26 Crown Royal team came on lap 16 after the No. 11 car spun in turn three. McMurray noted the car was “way too loose” and asked for a round of bite to help tighten up his race machine.
Immediately after the restart, the field entered turn three, as a wreck occurred ahead of McMurray. A heads-up move by McMurray saved his No. 26 machine from being a part of the wreckage. Following the accident, NASCAR officials displayed the red flag as they serviced a section of the track, where water was leaking onto the speedway. After another delay, the race was restarted on lap 25, with McMurray scored in the 15th position.
The race continued until lap 87 when rain showers moved over the speedway. The brief, but heavy downpour left track officials with another round of track drying. By 11:00pm, the track had still not dried completely. NASCAR moved the conclusion of the race to Monday morning at 10:00am.
Under sunny skies, McMurray started Monday morning from the 25th position, and after a small air pressure adjustment from the night before was able to move quickly into the 19th position.
With 100 laps remaining in the 250-lap event, McMurray came down pit road for service after the caution flag was displayed for debris on the track. McMurray noted the car was still too loose, and requested a chassis adjustment to the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion. After a quick pit stop, McMurray returned to the track in the 19th position.
McMurray continued to run in the top-20, where he remained for most of the race. When a late race caution flag was displayed for a spin in turn four, McMurray and Crew Chief Larry Carter made the call for a two-tire pit stop. The gamble put McMurray in third position for the restart.
McMurray remained in the top 10 until lap 239, when his racecar moved too high up the speedway in turn four and started to loose traction. McMurray quickly gathered the No. 26 machine, but in the process lost a handful of position. For the remaining laps of the race, McMurray fought an extremely loose racecar and finished the race in the 22nd position.
“I thought we were going to have a great finish there at the end for the No. 26 Crown Royal team,” said McMurray following the race. “Larry made a great call at the end of race that put us in position to finish in the top-10. When I went into turn four, the car got really loose on me and started to come around. I was able to save it, but I lost a ton of positions in the end. I hate it for all the guys; we had a pretty good car there at the end of race. We’ll take what we learned from this race and head to Vegas next weekend.
McMurray moved up four positions in the Sprint Cup point standings to the 22nd position following this afternoon’s race. Next weekend, the Crown Royal team will unload at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third race of the 2008 season.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile speedway)
Las Vegas, Nev.
Sunday, March 2, 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.