Long Pond, PA. (June 7, 2009) – Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Irwin VISE-GRIP Ford Fusion made his 13th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway in the Pocono 500. In his previous starts, McMurray had achieved one pole and three top-10 finishes. His best showing at the two-mile Pennsylvania track came in August of last year when he led two laps and finished ninth. With that in mind, McMurray was optimistic heading into Sunday’s race and said, “We had really fast cars last year at Pocono and earned a top-10 finish in August so I’m confident as we head into this weekend’s race that we’ll have a great finish that this IRWIN VISE-GRIP team deserves.” At the end of the 200-lap event, McMurray drove away with a 13th-place finish in his 13th Cup series start at Pocono Raceway.
Rain cancelled qualifying at Pocono and the race field was set by the NASCAR Rule Book. McMurray rolled of 22nd and quickly began making his way through the field. Though he reported that his Irwin Ford “may be a tick loose”, McMurray had moved up to 14th position on lap 12 when he brought his Fusion to pit road under caution for a four tire pit stop.
Since several competitors opted for just two tires on the stop, McMurray fell to 19th position for the race’s restart on lap 16. Still battling the loose handling of his No. 26, McMurray fell to 23rd position before he would see pit road again on lap 75. After receiving four fresh tires, fuel and some minor tweaks to improve the handling of the Irwin Ford, McMurray rejoined the race in 24th position.
McMurray struggled more with his loose handling No. 26 throughout the next run and fell to 24th place before his next pit stop on lap 103. After receiving a quick service from his Irwin crew, McMurray exited the pits in 21st position.
With just under 80 laps remaining in the race, McMurray had put the No. 26 inside the top 20 and began to report that his Ford was “a little tight”. Though he wasn’t 100% satisfied with the handling of his Irwin Ford, McMurray held his own and ran in around 20th position until lap 137 when the leaders began their green flag pit stops. McMurray stayed out to lead a lap before stopping on lap 139. When the field cycled through the No. 26 was scored in 21st position.
With 40 laps in the race and the field spread out due to long green flag runs, McMurray caught a break from Mother Nature in the form of a yellow flag due to rain. McMurray made his way down pit road for what would be his last stop of the day. After the delay, the field was closed back up and McMurray was again battling for position. As many of the leaders were forced to pit for fuel, McMurray stayed on the track and was able to pick up was able to pick up several spots. McMurray finished the Pocono 500 in 13th place.
“We didn’t do as well as we wanted to today,” McMurray said after the race. “Matt, Greg, and Carl ran really, really well. We had a fast car in practice and when the race first started we were good, but then we were terrible for a while there. Eventually our IRWIN VISE-GRIP Ford got turned around in the right direction in regards to handling, but we just couldn’t drive our way up to the front of the field. We just didn’t have as good of a car as we needed today.”
Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards dominated much of the race, but was passed on pit road by Tony Stewart and never regained the lead. Stewart went on to capture the win in a race that boiled down to fuel strategy. Edwards finished second, followed by David Reutimann, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman who rounded out the top five finishers for the afternoon.
Next weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Michigan International Speedway for the LifeLock 400. Pre-race television coverage begins on Sunday, June 14th at 12:30p.m. EST on TNT. Radio coverage will be provided by the Motor Racing Network.
Michigan International Speedway (2.0-mile speedway)
Sunday, June 14, 2009