BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 15, 2008) – On a special Father’s Day afternoon at Michigan International Speedway, Roush Fenway Racing driver Jamie McMurray came close to giving his father, Jim McMurray the ultimate Father’s Day present – a trip to Victory Lane. Late in the race, the No. 26 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 team felt they had enough fuel to run the distance and battle with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the win but when the caution flew with just two laps remaining, the No. 26 team was forced to pit for fuel, and settle for a top-10 finish in this afternoon’s Lifelock 400.
Carrying the special Crown Royal Cask No. 16 paint with a special Father’s Day message on the hood, the team looked forward to a race in Michigan that has typically been dominated by Jack Roush and Ford Racing.
On Friday, the team was very confident with their car after unloading and running one practice session. Later that afternoon, rain showers moved over the two-mile speedway, washing out qualifying. In accordance with the NASCAR rule book, the field was set by current 2008 owner’s points, meaning the No. 26 team would take the green flag from the 23rd position.
Following a morning BBQ with two-time Super Bowl champion, Carl Banks, who played guest chef for the Crown Royal team, McMurray and the No. 26 crew prepared for a 200-lap race. After the start of the race, McMurray immediately noted to crew chief Larry Carter that the car felt a little loose.
After a brief caution flag on lap two, the race remained caution free until a caution on lap 92 for a spinning race car. Prior to this mid-race caution, the No. 26 team made two green flag pit stops. McMurray’s car, which had been loose all day, was adjusted in attempts to tighten the handling during both of these early stops.
At the midpoint of the race, lap 100, McMurray was scored in the 22nd position but confident that with a few more changes, he would be able to work his way towards the front of the pack. After a pit stop on lap 155, where the team changed four tires, topped off the fuel tank, and made minor air pressure adjustments to the car, Carter instructed McMurray to conserve fuel during the upcoming run.
McMurray radioed back on the restart that he was going to use the first 10 laps to gain as many positions as possible and then begin saving fuel. As McMurray began saving fuel and seeing the end of the sight, other teams were forced to pit. As team after team began to come down pit road, McMurray continued to surge up the leaderboard. The excitement grew when Earnhardt, Jr. took the lead and the advances of the No. 26 moved him into second place. With just six laps remaining, Carter told McMurray he had enough fuel to make it to the end, and to go get the No. 88 for the lead.
McMurray and Earnhardt, Jr. rocketed off into turn one, with Jr. running the high line, and McMurray on the low line. The racing action continued for four more laps when he appeared to be just two cars racing for the lead. Unfortunately for McMurray, the caution flag was displayed when the No. 77 of Sam Hornish, Jr. spun coming off turn three. The caution flag forced McMurray and Carter to make a call that could be the difference of going for the win or running out of fuel before the checkered flag.
Together, Carter and McMurray made the call to come down pit road for two right-side tires and a splash of fuel. McMurray returned to the track in the 14th position, and following the green-white-checkered finish, McMurray was able to advance four positions to finish 10th.
“We had a great day in our No. 26 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Ford Fusion,” said McMurray following the race. “We should’ve just challenged for the win there with the way the fuel strategy worked out – the 88 car and I would’ve had a great race. But, I guess Hornish spun out and brought the yellow out, and then we didn’t know how long it was going to be under caution, so we came in, put tires on and finished 10th. It was a great day for everyone on the team, and certainly for my Dad. I thought at the end it was all going to work out perfectly and I’d be able to give my Dad a win today for Father’s Day. In the end, it was a solid day for the Crown Royal team.”
Next weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads out west to Sonoma, Calif. for the season’s first visit to a road course. Last year at Infineon Raceway, McMurray took the pole and dominated the race before a late race fuel gamble left the team two laps short. This weekend, the No. 26 Crown Royal team looks to defend their pole at Sonoma, and take home their missed victory from last season.
Toyota/Save Mart 350
Infineon Raceway (2.52-mile road course)
Sunday, June 22, 2008
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.