MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 18, 2008) – Jamie McMurray made his return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday. This was McMurray’s first truck race since 2004, where he captured a victory at Martinsville. This time he had his work cut out for him after rain canceled all of practice on Friday and limited teams to only 50 minutes of practice before qualifying on Saturday morning. After running in the top 10 much of the race, McMurray was 18th when the checkered flag fell.
McMurray qualified ninth, but within the first five laps he commented the truck was loose. Crew chief Chad Norris thought a right-side air pressure adjustment would help so they pitted for right-side tires and fuel during the first caution on lap 36. With quick work by the Zaxby’s team they were able to maintain seventh place for the restart on lap 40.
When the race resumed, McMurray passed Kyle Busch for sixth place on lap 41 for his best position of the day. He remained in sixth place for 22 laps until Busch reclaimed the spot with an inside pass.
Problems built for the No. 09 team at the halfway point in the race. The brake and gas pedals were releasing slowly and in some cases sticking, making a sponge-like affect. By lap 137 the truck developed a vibration, so when a caution came out on lap 139 McMurray brought his truck to pit road for service. The crew had another good stop, changing four tires, adding enough fuel to complete the race. After the stop the crew examined the tires and found the left-front tire had a flat spot from sliding which caused the vibration and handling issues.
On the restart McMurray was 22nd with 49 laps to go. As the tires warmed up he could feel the difference and knew the truck was better. His lap times were just as good as the trucks in the top five, but making up track position at Martinsville is very difficult.
The race became very intense in the last 30 laps with drivers getting aggressive and running out of room on the half-mile track resulting in more cautions. In the final laps McMurray gained a few positions as three drivers ran out of fuel, and a multi-truck accident on the final lap took out a few more. McMurray crossed the line in 18th place while Johnny Benson won the race, and regained his point lead with four races remaining.
“It may not have been raining but weather still played a factor,” McMurray said. “The limited practice time really hurt us finding the right set-up. I also slid the left front which caused it to flat spot so we had to pit an extra time which killed our track position. Once you get behind at Martinsville it’s really difficult to climb out of the hole we dug ourselves.”
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 25. Travis Kvapil will pilot the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 at Atlanta.
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, Travis Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.