SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) – On a beautiful afternoon in Wine Country, Jamie McMurray, who started from the 18th position drove his No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion into the top five just 30 laps into this afternoon’s Save Mart 350. After running the majority of the race in the top three, McMurray had his dominating run cut short just five laps from the checkered flag. As the checkered flag flew for race winner Kyle Busch, McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal were left with a disappointing 18th-place finish.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pulled into Sonoma, Calif. on Friday afternoon for three days of road course racing. McMurray and the No. 26 team entered Sonoma with their heads held high following a top-10 run last weekend in Michigan and knowing how successful McMurray is at the 11-turn road course.
After qualifying 18th on Friday afternoon, McMurray and the No. 26 Crown Royal team spent Sunday morning going over both race and fuel strategy. After deciding on a game plan, McMurray and crew chief Larry Carter both felt they had a winning plan in the works.
After taking the green flag, McMurray slowly began to pick off one position at a time. By lap 20, the No. 26 Ford Fusion was scored in the 12th spot, and by lap 28, when the team made their first of two pit stops, McMurray had moved into the 10th position. During the first pit stop on lap 28th, Carter called for four tires, two cans of fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment, after McMurray noted the car was “a little loose through the fast stuff.”
Just three laps after the No. 26 team completed their pit stop, the caution flag was displayed for debris on the race track. Following the caution period, McMurray restarted the race in the fourth position, and was able to maintain his top-five running position until their next pit stop on lap 68.
During the second pit stop, Carter noted to the team that today’s race would not be won on pit road with a quick pit stop, and insisted the team focus on making sure everything was perfect with McMurray’s Ford Fusion when he left pit road. Following the pit stop for four tires and a full tank of gas, McMurray returned to the course. After all the teams had completed green flag stops, the No. 26 car was once again shown in the third position.
Again, just three laps later, the caution flag was displayed for a wreck in turn 11. This time on the restart, McMurray, who restarted third made a quick move on the car ahead of him, and was able to pass coming to the green flag. This moved McMurray into second place, and chasing the No. 18 car up the hill into turns one and two.
As the laps counted down, it was leader Busch, followed by the No. 26 of McMurray. With only 10 laps remaining in the event, it appeared it was going to be a top-five finish for the No. 26 Crown Royal team. However, the caution flag was displayed on lap 101, as the No. 44 car went off the track in turn 9. Following the caution period, it was once again the No. 18 and No. 26 machines leading the field to the green flag.
With the crowd on their feet, the train of cars took off through the 11-turn road course. As the top five cars entered turn 7, McMurray was hit from behind by the No. 29 which slide McMurray sideways into the side of the No. 20 car, taking out all three cars. With minimum damage, McMurray quickly jumped back into line, but lost more than 18 positions and was forced to restart the race in the 20th position.
McMurray tried to pick up as many positions as possible following the restart, but with only a few laps remaining, was only able to secure two additional positions, leaving him and the No. 26 team with a disappointing 18th-place finish.
“It’s so hard to believe what happen to us there at the end of the race,” said McMurray following the race. “I haven’t seen the replay, but from what I can tell, I was hit from behind by the No. 29, which sent us sideways collecting the No. 20 in the process. I had a top two or three car this afternoon, and was left with 18th place when it was all said and done. We did everything right today, and unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalize on that at the end of the day. It’s very disappointing for me, Crown Royal and all the guys on this No. 26 team.”
After finishing 18th this afternoon, McMurray did move up one position to 20th in the Sprint Cup point standings. Next weekend, the series travels to the Northeast for a visit to the New Hampshire International Speedway. Prior to the race this weekend in Loudon, N.H., McMurray will stop at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox game on Wednesday evening.
LENOX Industrial Tools 301
New Hampshire International Speedway (1.058-mile speedway)
Sunday, June 29, 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, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.