FONTANA, CA (August 31, 2008) – The last time Jamie McMurray and the No. 17 CitiFinancial team raced at Auto Club Speedway, they fought their way to a sixth-place finish after being rained out for two days. The Nationwide Series returned out west this weekend and this time Mother Nature gave the competitors sunny skies. McMurray had a strong showing all weekend and finished the Camping World RV Service 300 fifth, his third career fifth-place Nationwide Series finish at the track.
The No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion unloaded fast and McMurray posted the second-fastest time in final practice. The team thought they had a shot at qualifying on the pole, but McMurray said the car was too loose during his run and the CitiFinancial Ford Fusion ended up seventh. Crew chief Pierre Kuettel and the team expected to have a top-five car for the race.
Shortly after the green flag dropped, McMurray said he was “pretty tight,” a condition he would go on to fight the entire night. He held strong to a top-10 position and was running ninth when green flag pit stops began on lap 38. Kuettel called for an air pressure adjustment on the first pit stop. McMurray was brought down pit road on lap 40 for four fresh tires. The CitiFinancial team knocked off a solid stop and McMurray was back running fifth when the field cycled through on lap 47.
When the caution fell on lap 55, McMurray said he still needed “to be freer.” Kuettel called his driver down pit road for four tires and another air pressure adjustment. Shortly after the restart, McMurray said he was “still real tight.” Running seventh when the next caution fell on lap 76, McMurray told Kuettel to “free it up.” The No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion came down pit road for four tires and a wedge adjustment. The over-the-wall crew came through in a big way, giving McMurray a great stop and picking up four spots on pit road. McMurray restarted third with 69 laps remaining.
Soon after the restart, McMurray voiced concern over the wedge adjustment, saying he “couldn’t be any freer” and asking for the change to be put back on the next stop. A long green flag run set in and McMurray fought hard to hand on to the ill-handling CitiFinancial Ford Fusion. Another round of green flag stops began and McMurray came in on lap 122. The team gave McMurray another strong stop and he was back running fifth with 31 laps left in the race. Multiple late-race cautions fell, hurting McMurray’s chances of advancing position. “I just can’t get going for about a lap and a half,” he told the team under one of the late caution periods. The Sprint Cup regular held on to finish fifth.
“It was a good night for this CitiFinancial team,” said McMurray. “We had really good pit stops, so that was encouraging. I thought maybe we had a car that could win tonight, but when the race started the balance was good, we just didn’t have quite enough speed in our car. We were tight and then loose and just not fast enough. I thought we had the second-best car in practice and I thought we had a shot at the pole and we qualified seventh and finished fifth, so you want to run better, but for a part-time deal this team doesn’t run very much and I’ve only run two or three races this year, so that’s pretty good.”
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.