DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 10, 2008) – Darlington raceway, a track with well-earned nicknames like “The Lady in Black” and the track that’s “too tough to tame” kept the entire NASCAR garage on its toes this weekend. After 367 grueling laps, McMurray methodically “raced the track” to finish in the 11th position.
Entering the Mother’s Day weekend at Darlington Raceway, NASCAR teams faced many unknowns at the newly repaved 1.366-mile speedway. With a new surface, a new car and untested tires, the teams were a bit skeptical with Saturday night’s race and more importantly, how to tame one of the toughest race tracks on the NASCAR circuit.
On a beautiful Saturday night in Darlington, S.C., Sue McMurray and a host of other mothers gave the starting command to the 43 drivers who prepared for a night of grueling racing.
Immediately after the green flag dropped, the first caution of the night was displayed when Elliott Sadler slid up the race track into the path of Tony Stewart, causing severe damage to both race cars. McMurray, in the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion dove low to avoid the incident. Crew chief Larry Carter came over the radio to instruct McMurray to race the track, not the other drivers.
When the action resumed, McMurray was able to pass a handful of cars to work his way into the top-20 but noted to Carter, “the car was still a little too loose.” On lap 56, McMurray came down pit road under green flag conditions for his first pit stop of the night. The No. 26 team quickly changed four tires and added two cans of fuel to McMurray’s Ford Fusion. After a 13.4 second stop, McMurray returned to the track in the 19th position.
Green flag racing continued until the next caution flag was displayed on lap 138 for debris on the race track. This break, the first in 127 laps, gave McMurray and the rest of the field a chance to come down pit road for tires and fuel. During the pit stop on lap 140, the Crown Royal team changed four tires, added two cans of fuel and made a slight track bar adjustment.
As the race went on, long streaks of green flag racing continued, and as McMurray noted, that was not what the team needed. “I could go really fast on new tires and when we had those few short runs, we gained a lot of track position, but those long runs hurt us.”
Even with the long green flag runs, McMurray was still able to advance up the leaderboard. With 100 laps left in the event, McMurray was shown in 15th place and with 30 laps remaining drove his way into the top-10. In the final 10 laps of the race, McMurray battled with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton for the 10th position. As the checkered flag waved for race winner Kyle Busch, the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion came across the line in the 11th position – McMurray’s fifth top-20 finish of the 2008 season. The 11th-place finish moved McMurray up three positions to 23rd in the Sprint Cup point standings.
“You know what, though, it was just like the old Darlington,” said McMurray following the race. “You had to drive the track the same and you had to race guys the same way. You couldn’t race people; you had to just race the track. So even though it was fast, it was still kind of the same old Darlington. In the end, it was a pretty good night for the Crown Royal team. To have a good run tonight at Darlington is really great for our team.”
After winning at Daytona International Speedway last summer, McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal team are automatically entered into the Sprint All-Star race scheduled for next Saturday evening. Prior to the Sprint All-Star race on Saturday, the No. 26 team will compete in the Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday evening. Coverage of the All-Star weekend will begin at 7:00pm with the Sprint Showdown race, followed by the Sprint All-Star race at 9:00pm on Saturday evening.
Sprint All-Star Race
Lowe’s Motor Speedway (1.5-mile speedway)
Saturday, May 17, 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.