CONCORD, N.C. (May 25, 2008) – Entering tonight’s 400-lap, 600-mile race, Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools team felt confident about their run in the season’s longest race of the year – the Coca-Cola 600. Early into the race, McMurray felt the handling of his Ford Fusion slip away with each change the team made during pit stops. After going a lap down early in the race, the No. 26 fought every lap to regain their lead lap position, however, when the checkered flag flew for race winner Kasey Kahne, the No. 26 team was left with a disappointing 23rd-place finish.
After qualifying 15th on Thursday evening, and having two very impressive practices on Saturday afternoon, the entire No. 26 team were excited about the 600 mile race ahead of them on Sunday evening.
Before a hometown crowd of over 160,000 friends and family, 43 cars took the green flag in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. With the race beginning late in the afternoon, and continuing into the evening, the teams had to be prepared with both a day and nighttime setup, as track conditions would change as the sun set over 1.5-mile speedway.
Early into the race, McMurray advanced two positions to 13th place, where he ran until the first pit stop on lap 52. The No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools team changed four tires, added two cans of fuel and made both an air pressure and wedge adjustment to their Ford Fusion. After the 13.4 second green flag pit stop, McMurray was still shown in the top 15 on the leaderboard.
The first caution of the night was displayed on lap 60. During the caution period, the No. 26 Ford Fusion came down pit road for a splash of fuel, and another slight wedge adjustment. Back on the track, major handling issues began for McMurray.
Three laps into the next run, McMurray came over the radio and told crew chief Larry Carter it felt as though the right front tire was going flat. He told Carter he would ride it out, but felt like the tire was rolling over itself and causing a loose condition in the No. 26 Ford Fusion.
After riding out the problem for more than 40 laps, the No. 26 team pitted on lap 113 after being lapped by the No. 2 car. During the pit stop, the No. 26 team changed four tires and added two cans of fuel. The fresh tires did not help and McMurray noted the car still felt like the right front was going down after two laps into the next run.
When the next caution flag came out on lap 162, the No. 26 team who was one lap down to the leaders opted to pit again to change the right front shock. The long pit stop on lap 164 dropped the No. 26 car to the 31st position. During the next lap, Carter called McMurray down pit road again so the team could change the left side tires.
Determined not to give up the fight, the No. 26 team continued to work on the car and remain only one lap down until the very end of the race. Over the final 100 laps, the No. 26 team did everything they could to put themselves into a position to receive the “Lucky Dog” pass, which would put them onto the lead lap, but the luck never fell their way. In the end, the No. 26 team was able to pick up seven positions to finish in the 23rd position in tonight’s Coca-Cola 600.
“Tonight was a really long night for the No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools team” said McMurray following the race. “Going into tonight’s race, I really felt like we were going to have a great car and post a pretty strong finish. We had two great practices yesterday, which gave us all a lot of confidence heading into tonight. After the second run, the car became more and more loose. Nothing we threw at it seemed to help the handling. It was a long night but I’m proud of the guys of all the guys on this No. 26 team for hanging in there tonight and not giving up. We were able to pick up a handful of positions there at the end, and although that’s not where we would have wanted to finish, we did finish the race in one piece.”
This week the team will prepare for next Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway. Prior to racing at Dover, the teams will travel to Pocono Raceway for a two-day test session on Tuesday and Wednesday. In his last run at the “Monster Mile” in September of 2007, McMurray posted a top-10 finish.
Best Buy 400 benefiting Student Clubs for Autism Speaks
Dover International Speedway (One-mile speedway)
Sunday, June 1, 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.