AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 12, 2008) – Jamie McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal team endured an evening of ups and downs to finish 17th in tonight’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The No. 26 team kicked off the weekend with a solid qualifying effort and backed it up with a top-20 finish after going a lap down early in the race and battling an ill-handling racecar for most of the evening.
Under bright, sunny skies, Ryan Newman led the 43-car field to the green flag at 5:53pm local time. Before a sellout crowd of 100,000 fans, McMurray began the evening in the eighth position.
Early into the first run, McMurray radioed to crew chief Larry Carter, noting the car was extremely loose. Carter told McMurray to hang on, and the team would make the needed changes during the first pit stop. When the caution flag was displayed on lap 40, Carter instructed McMurray to come down pit where the team would change four tires, add two cans of fuel and make an air pressure adjustment in hopes of tightening up their No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion.
The air pressure change was not enough for McMurray who dropped seven positions before the next pit stop opportunity. During the pit stop on lap 110, under green flag conditions, Carter called for air pressure and wedge adjustments. On lap 113, as the No. 26 Ford Fusion returned to the raceway, the caution flag was displayed for a wreck in turn two. The ill-timed caution flag put McMurray one lap down to the leaders, however, after the leaders made their pit stops, McMurray restarted ahead of the field and reclaimed his lost lap.
McMurray was able to maintain his position and hold off the leaders; and to the team’s luck, the caution flag was displayed just 14 laps into the next run. The much-needed caution flag moved the No. 26 team back behind the leaders, and into the 20th position back on the lead lap.
As the sun set on Phoenix International Raceway, the handling on McMurray’s Ford Fusion worsened. The loose condition McMurray fought early in the race only seemed to be amplified as the track cooled down. The No. 26 team continued to make adjustments, and through great pit strategy was able to move McMurray up the leaderboard.
During the final run of tonight’s race, McMurray, along with a handful of his fellow drivers, was forced to pit for fuel with just a few laps remaining. During their final pit stop on lap 301, Carter called for a splash of fuel, as well as two-tires. The No. 26 Crown Royal pit crew clicked off a 5.7-second pit stop, and returned McMurray to the track in the 17th position.
As the checkered flag was displayed for race winner, Jimmie Johnson, the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion came across the line in the 17th position. Tonight’s run marks McMurray’s third top-20 finish in as many weeks.
“Considering everything we went through tonight, I’m just glad we finished the race in one piece,” said McMurray following the race. “Larry and all the guys on the team did everything they could to tighten up our car, but nothing seemed to work, we were too loose the entire race. We tried a couple of pit strategy moves, that helped move us up the leaderboard and maintain good track position, but in the end, it came down to our No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion being too loose.”
The No. 26 team will enjoy a weekend off before returning to the track in Talladega, Ala. In last year’s race, McMurray scored a top-five finish at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. The action begins at 2:00pm on both FOX and PRN.
Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile superspeedway)
Sunday, April 27, 2008
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, Travis Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.