TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2008) – Jamie McMurray and team endured a wild afternoon of racing to leave Talladega Superspeedway with a top-20 finish. In one of the most exciting races of the season, McMurray battled with the field to run as high as second place. At a track where the drivers describe the competition as a “high speed chess match” the most important order of the day was deciding who to run with. In the end, McMurray found a drafting partner in Dale Earnhardt Jr. and in one lap went from the 28th position to finish 17th.
The threat of rain was on everyone’s mind as the green flag waved for pole sitter Joe Nemechek. McMurray sat tight in the middle of the pack and settled into the draft. Early in the race, the low line was determined to be the fastest for the Crown Royal Ford Fusion. McMurray sat laid low and felt out the field waiting for an opportunity to find a partner and make a run to the front.
That opportunity came on lap 30 when McMurray partnered with the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin. The drivers maneuvered their machines out of line and surged to the front of the field. By lap 31, after an impressive showing of speed, the No. 11 and No. 26 were leading the field of cars out of turn four. As happens at Talladega, both Hamlin and McMurray eventually fell back through the field as cars went three wide but both drivers had showed the field that they had the cars to run up front.
The first round of green flag pit stops began on lap 60. The No. 26 machine came down pit road on lap 63 for two left side tires and fuel. McMurray and crew chief Larry Carter agreed that the Crown Royal Ford Fusion needed no adjustments.
In typical restrictor plate racing fashion, McMurray’s position on the scoreboard jumped from top to bottom for most of the race. No clear leader emerged as the entire field remained bunched up fighting for position right up to the finish.
On lap 173, the No. 43 of Bobby Labonte got loose taking out the No. 20 leaving the entire field to check up. McMurray was pushed into the outside retaining wall causing damage to the fender and front splitter. On lap 175, the crew went over the wall to repair the damage. The crew had the Crown Royal Ford Fusion out of the pits in time to catch the field without going a lap down.
On the restart, the No. 26 was scored in the 28th position. With three laps to go, McMurray hooked up with Earnhardt, Jr. and made a run to the front picking up 10 positions to be scored 18th. On the final lap, the No. 55 car blew his engine in front of McMurray. As the No. 26 slowed to miss the incident, other competitors passed him on the low line so that when he initially crossed the finish line, McMurray was scored in the 20th position. Since this late wreck brought out the caution flag on the final lap, the field was frozen causing NASCAR to review the finish using the electronic scoring loop. In the end, McMurray earned a 17th place finish.
“I thought we were going to be able to grab a few more spots there at the end before that last wreck happened,” said McMurray. “On the final restart, I was able to hook up with Jr. and we were really working our way through the field. Then someone ahead of us had a problem and the caution flag came out. I did everything I could to avoid it and keep up my speed. The No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion was really fast today and Larry and the guys did a great job. Had we been able to avoid those last two wrecks, we certainly had one of the best cars out there today.”
The No. 26 team will prepare this week for the Crown Royal presents the Dan Lowry 400 next Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway (RIR). Next weekend marks the second year Crown Royal hosts the “Your Name Here” race at RIR. The racing action begins at 7:30pm on FOX and MRN.
Crown Royal presents the Dan Lowry 400
Richmond International Raceway (.75-mile raceway)
Saturday, May 3, 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.