HAMPTON, GA. (March 9, 2008) – Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools team battled all types of elements this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Throughout the course of the weekend, the team fought rain, snow and in the end, an ill-handling racecar. After a grueling afternoon of chassis changes, air pressure adjustments and spring changes, the No. 26 team was left with a 40th-place finish.
This weekend marked both the first weekend McMurray sported the IRWIN blue and yellow colors in 2008, also the weekend IRWIN Industrial Tools kicks of their search for the 2008 Ultimate Trademan, in their annual, “Ultimate Trademan’s Challenge.”
Mother Nature, once again, played havoc with the practice and qualifying schedule this weekend. Friday morning brought heavy downpours, and Saturday morning, unseasonable snow showers. In spite of the weather, teams were able to qualifying on Friday night, with McMurray securing the 24th starting position. On Saturday, the track battled snow showers, which limited practice to just one hour and 20 minutes.
The green flag finally flew under sunny but chilly conditions at 2:16 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. McMurray, who started from the 24th position, reported a loose condition in the handling of the car very early in the race. By lap 20, the No. 26 machine lost a handful of positions and was in jeopardy of losing a lap. Crew chief Larry Carter came over the radio and told McMurray to “hang in there the best he could, and the team would make changes as soon as possible.” However, by the time the first caution was displayed on lap 39, the No. 26 team had already gone one lap down.
As McMurray brought his No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford Fusion down pit road, Carter called for both a chassis and air pressure adjustment. McMurray returned to the speedway in the 28th position.
During the next run, McMurray reported the car was too loose and had no traction both entering and exiting the corners. McMurray was able to maintain control of his racecar for another 38 laps, but on lap 77 requested a pit stop for another chassis change and four new tires. As the No. 26 machine came down pit road, NASCAR flagged him for entering pit road too quickly and required McMurray to make another pass down pit road on the ensuing lap. After both the pit stop and the penalty from NASCAR, McMurray was scored in the 43rd position, four laps down.
The caution flag came out again on lap 84 for debris on the track. After a long discussion with Carter, the duo decided to move the housing of the car forward, which the team hoped would improve the handling of McMurray’s No. 26 Ford Fusion. After a lengthy stop, McMurray returned to the speedway and noted the car was handling better but was still very loose off the corners.
Over the remainder of the afternoon, Carter and the team continued to work on the handling of the IRWIN Tools Ford Fusion but to their dismay, nothing seemed to significantly improve the handling of McMurray’s car. When the checkered flag waved for race winner Kyle Busch, the No. 26 machine came across the line in the 40th position.
“I’m very frustrated with this afternoon’s race,” said McMurray. “This might be the longest day I’ve ever had in a racecar. Larry (Carter) and the guys tried everything they could, but nothing seemed to improve the handling of our No. 26 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford Fusion. We tried wedge, trackbar, air pressure, everything, but nothing worked. We are going to take this car back to the shop tomorrow and try to figure out exactly what happen. This doesn’t and shouldn’t happen to us, we are a better team. I’m disappointed with today, but we have to keep our heads up and look forward to next week in Bristol. Last year we had a really good at Bristol and hopefully, we can repeat the same effort again next week.”
Last year, McMurray qualified fifth in the spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and went on to finish in the top 10. This week the No. 26 team will prepare for the fifth race of the season this weekend and on Thursday travel 220 miles north to Bristol, Tenn. for Sunday’s running of the Food City 500. The action begins at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on FOX and MRN.
Food City 500
Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-mile speedway)
Sunday, March 16, 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, Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.