RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2008) – After a one-day delay for Tropical Storm Hanna, Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 team weathered a disappointing 29th –place finish at Richmond International Raceway. After qualifying was rained out on Friday afternoon, the No. 26 team started 19th in Sunday afternoon’s race. After 400 laps around the .75-mile speedway, the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion crossed the finish line in the 29th position.
Leading into the Richmond race weekend, the talk of the garage was how the pending hurricane would affect the race weekend. After one full practice on Friday afternoon, rain showers moved over the speedway, leaving the field set by current owner’s points. Late Friday afternoon, NASCAR officials determined the best and safest plan would be to cancel the race on Saturday and instead run the race on Sunday afternoon.
The green flag dropped at 1:09pm on Sunday afternoon, with current point leader Kyle Busch leading the field to the green flag. McMurray started on the inside line of row 10 and quickly picked up two positions on the track. Prior to the race, NASCAR officials told the team a competition yellow flag would be displayed at lap 35, giving each of the teams a chance to come down pit road for service.
McMurray entered the pits in the 18th position and after a four tire stop by the Crown Royal pit crew, the No. 26 machine returned to the speedway scored in 17th. After a handful of laps, McMurray radioed into crew chief Larry Carter noting that the handling into and exiting the corners was too loose. During the next pit stop on lap 97, Carter called for both track bar and air pressure adjustments to the No. 26 machine.
By lap 215, McMurray had moved up to the 13th position and looked poised for a solid finish for the day. However, on lap 226 the caution flag was displayed for a spin on the frontstretch. After a brief debate on the radio, Carter instructed McMurray not to pit as the field behind McMurray entered pit road.
When the caution flag was displayed again on lap 241, Carter called McMurray down pit road for four tires and fuel. During the pit stop, the car ahead of McMurray pulled into its pit box and stopped short, leaving McMurray and his crew no choice but to back the car up before exiting the pits. With a number of cars remaining on the track and the time lost on pit road due to another race car, the No. 26 was scored in the 29th position when the green flag dropped again on lap 246.
McMurray quickly made up the lost ground during the ensuing run, but during the next pit stop, the team was faced with the same problem. During the stop on lap 298 the team lost another handful of positions and dropped back to the 23rd position.
When the checkered flag was displayed for race winner Jimmie Johnson, the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion came across the finish line in the 29th position.
“It was a pretty disappointing race for us today,” said McMurray following the race. “We easily had a top-10 car, but with the problems in the pits, we lost a ton of positions. I’m not exactly sure what happened with the No. 9 car and why he was stopping so short in his box, but it had a huge effect on our team and in the end, the outcome of the race. We had a much better car than where we finished today. We didn’t have the best pit strategy and in the end, it was a long afternoon for us.”
Following this afternoon’s race, McMurray remains 18th in the Sprint Cup point standings. Next weekend, the Roush Fenway team travels north to its “second” hometown track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race begins at 2:00pm on ESPN and MRN.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1.058-mile speedway)
September 14, 2009