FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 team started the Samsung 500 race at Texas Motor Speedway from the 32nd position. Through great pit stops, good adjustments and solid driving by McMurray, the team improved 17 positions during the 339 lap race to finish 14th. The team has posted two consecutive top-15 finishes and has improved their position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings to 25th.
Sporting the special Cask No. 16 paint scheme for the Texas weekend, the No. 26 team felt they had momentum on their side after a huge top-10 finish at Martinsville the weekend prior.
Before an estimated crowd of 190,000 fans, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led the 43-car field to the green flag. McMurray started from the 32nd after a difficult qualifying effort on Friday afternoon. Prior to McMurray’s qualifying lap on Friday, the car ahead of him broke an oil line during the run, which left the track slick for McMurray’s run. The dicey track condition left McMurray with a qualifying effort of 32nd.
Determined to make up the track position lost in qualifying, McMurray rocketed through the field at the start of the Samsung 500. By lap 28, McMurray had gained 10 positions and was poised to take another when the caution flag was displayed for a spin behind him. During the caution period the No. 26 team made their first pit stop. After noting the car was “a little loose in and a little tight in the middle,” crew chief Larry Carter called for an air pressure change as well as a wedge adjustment to the No. 26 Ford Fusion.
McMurray pulled into pit box number 26, and the Crown Royal team quickly went to work on McMurray’s No. 26 machine. A 12.9-second stop gained McMurray three positions on pit road, as he exited 19th for the restart.
During the next run, McMurray continued his drive towards the front of the pack, posting lap times comparable to the leaders. McMurray’s climb up the leaderboard continued as he had gained another four positions by the next pit stop, which came at lap 84.
As the leaders began making green flag pit stops just three laps before, McMurray wheeled his No. 26 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Ford Fusion down pit road on lap 84 for four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and wedge adjustment to his machine. After service was completed by the No. 26 team, McMurray exited pit road still scored in the 15th position.
During the long stretch of green flag runs, McMurray continued to hold his position in the top 15, noting the car would start out a little free and then after 10 to 15 laps, would begin to tighten back up on him. Carter continued to make small adjustments throughout the race, which helped McMurray maintain solid lap times and good track position.
With only four laps remaining in the race, the caution flag was displayed for oil on the frontstretch. After a brief discussion on the radio between Carter and McMurray, the decision was made to come in for a two-tire stop. McMurray entered pit road in the 14th position and after the stop was completed, exited the same.
During the final lap of the race, McMurray looked to gain an additional two positions but was forced to slow down due to an accident on the frontstretch as the field came to the checkered flag.
Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards won today’s Samsung 500, his third victory of 2008.
“Overall, I have to say, it was a pretty good day for the No. 26 Crown Royal team, considering we had to work our way all the way through the field after starting 32nd,” said McMurray following this afternoon’s race. “We had a strong car, but just needed a few more adjustments near the end of the race to be able to work our way up any further. We had a good day in the points, which is exactly what this No. 26 team needs right now.”
After the seventh race of the 2008 season, the No. 26 team is scored 25th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. The NASCAR series returns next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. The action begins at 8:30pm Eastern on both Fox and MRN.
Subway Fresh Fit 500
Phoenix International Raceway (One-mile speedway)
Saturday, April 12, 2008