CONCORD, N.C. (October 11, 2008) – During Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, it seemed as if Halloween had come a few weeks early. Jamie McMurray and the No. 17 CitiFinancial team battled rain, a record number of cautions, a spin through the frontstretch grass and significant body damage and still finished the Dollar General 300 in ninth place.
Rain washed out all but a few minutes of practice on Thursday, so NASCAR officials decided to bring the teams in early Friday to give everyone more practice time. The No. 17 Ford Fusion finished that practice session seventh on the charts. Crew chief Pierre Kuettel (P.K.) gave McMurray a great qualifying setup and McMurray put the CitiFinancial Ford Fusion on the pole, the team’s second pole of the season.
McMurray led the first 15 laps of the race. Eight laps into the event, rain appeared once again and the field was red flagged. NASCAR was able to dry the track and after nearly 11 minutes, the field was back to green. McMurray lost the lead shortly after the restart and told Kuettel he was “tight off” on lap 21. Running fourth when the caution came out on lap 50, McMurray came in for the first pit stop of the day. With the car getting tighter, Kuettel called for four tires, an air pressure adjustment and a full spring rubber removal. McMurray restarted fifth on lap 53.
Six laps into the next run, McMurray told the team he thought he had a flat right rear tire. McMurray came down pit road under green and the crew changed both right side tires. Upon inspecting the tires, the crew determined there was no flat. McMurray radioed the crew saying he was so loose it felt like “something broke.” He was running 26th, one lap down, when he asked for the spring rubber to be put back in on the next stop to help the handling.
McMurray fought to be in the Lucky Dog position and was in the right place when the next caution came out on lap 80. Just as McMurray and Kuettel were discussing changes for the next pit stop, heavy rain covered the track and the field was red flagged once again. The cars were brought down pit road and the teams waited for nearly an hour before the rain let up and racing resumed.
When he was finally able to come in for changes, McMurray received four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment. The spring rubber removed earlier in the night was reinserted and McMurray was back on the track in 21st place on lap 89. McMurray began working his way toward the front and was up to 16th when another caution came out on lap 95. The field stacked up on the restart and McMurray was spun through the infield grass. The No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion didn’t suffer any visible damage so McMurray lined back up without coming down pit road. Back to 19th, McMurray again began climbing up through the field. He was up to 15th when the caution flew on lap 116 and Kuettel called his driver in for four tires, wedge and air pressure adjustments.
The No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion restarted 20th with 79 laps remaining. McMurray was up to 11th when a big wreck set in across the frontstretch. The No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion suffered damage to the left front and the right door. The crew fixed what they could and sent McMurray back on the track in 16th place. Back up to 11th on lap 152, McMurray said he was “a little tight off.” The last pit stop of the night came under caution on lap 167. Kuettel called for two tires and a slight air pressure adjustment. McMurray restarted 10th with 27 laps left in the race.
The No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion was “still pretty tight” according to McMurray. With the laps winding down, McMurray fought to hold onto a solid top 10 finish. Two more cautions came out before the checkered flag flew, bringing the caution flag count to 13. McMurray crossed the stripe ninth for his third straight top-10 Nationwide Series finish.
“That was a long night,” said McMurray. “The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion was pretty tight all weekend, but it was still really fast. It’s frustrating getting caught up in the cautions and losing track position over and over. If we would’ve been able to avoid those wrecks we could’ve finished third or fourth. P.K. did a great job all night and I know the guys worked really hard. I’m glad it’s over, it was getting crazy out there.”
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.