WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2008) – More important than tires, more important than solid pit stops, when it comes to road course races, it’s come down to fuel mileage strategy. In this afternoon’s race at Watkins Glen International, Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal team felt they had a solid plan going into the race, but when a mid-race caution flag was displayed, the strategy didn’t play out in their favor. The team finished 16th in this afternoon’s Centurion Boats at The Glen.
Rain showers on Friday morning resulted in the starting lineup for Sunday’s race determined by current 2008 NASCAR Owner’s Points, which put the No. 26 team starting in the 20th position. During the two practices on Saturday afternoon, both McMurray and the team felt comfortable with their No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, and prepared for 90 laps around the 2.45-mile road course.
At 2:21pm Kyle Busch led 43 cars to the green flag and into the first turn – a sweeping, downhill right turn. As the cars muscled their way up the hill into turns three and four, McMurray settled behind the No. 2 machine as the freight train continued through the winding, left and right turn road course. Early into the race, McMurray radioed back to crew chief Larry Carter that the car was a little loose on the right-hand turns.
Prior to the race, McMurray and the team decided the best plan for the afternoon would be pit around lap 22, and then again at lap 55, which would ensure they would have enough fuel to go the full distance of the race.
After a solid pit stop on lap 22 by the No. 26 team, the plan looked to be in place, as McMurray returned to the track in the 29th position, but quickly moved back up to the 16th position as.
The caution free race continued until lap 47, when the caution flag was displayed for debris on the track. This changed the plan for a number of teams on pit road, as half of the field hit pit road for fuel and four fresh tires. The No. 26 team opted to remain on the track, and not pit, which moved McMurray up to the sixth position.
The race went back to green on lap 51, and four laps later, the No. 26 team’s plan was still in place as McMurray dove down pit road for four tires and fuel. Following the pit stop, McMurray returned to track scored in the 29th position.
In order for the strategy to work properly, the race would need to continue under green flag until the leaders would have to pit again for fuel. The plan was spoiled as the caution flag was displayed for debris on lap 63, which reset the field and moved McMurray back into the 17th position.
Following a 43 minute red flag for a multi car accident exiting turn 11 on lap 82, McMurray secured one additional position to finish 16th in this afternoon’s race.
“I’m pretty disappointed with this afternoon’s finish, “said McMurray after exiting from his No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion. “We thought going into the race that we had a pretty solid plan, but when the cautions did not fall the way we needed them to, the plan fell apart. Typically, the road courses are where I know I’ll run well, and this afternoon, we didn’t produce the finish I know we were capable of.”
McMurray remains 19th in the Sprint Cup point standings as the Cup Series travels to Brooklyn, Mich. next weekend for the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The action begins at 2:00pm on ESPN television and MRN radio affiliates.
3M Performance 400
Michigan International Speedway (Two-mile speedway)
August 17th, 2009
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.