TALLADEGA, AL (April 26, 2009) – Talladega Superspeedway is synonymous with high speeds and lightening-fast chain reaction crashes on the track’s legendary high banks. Racing at Talladega is all about the draft and finding partners on the track that will be there at the end of the 500-mile event, but it’s also all about survival and attempting to stay out of trouble where split-second timings can mean an early end to a race. Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 lived up to the hype of always providing the fans with numerous thrills and chills, but McMurray and his No. 26 Crown Royal team found themselves forced to end their day early after only being able to complete six of the race’s opening laps. The first multi-car wreck of the race collected at least 13 cars including the Crown Royal Ford and forced McMurray to finish 42nd in Sunday’s race.
McMurray and his team had traveled to Talladega optimistic about their chances for the weekend, but as any team will tell you, the only things that matter at Talladega are speed and survival. The No. 26 Crown Royal Ford began Sunday’s race from the 32nd starting position as the green flag waved at 1:22 p.m. CST under unseasonably warm temperatures in the low-80’s. McMurray immediately linked up with his line of traffic in the pack as the engines warmed up at the restrictor plate track. On the opening lap, McMurray was scored in 24th and just two laps later, he had gained two more positions as the 43-car field raced three cars wide on the high banks of Talladega.
By lap six, McMurray had found the fast line of traffic and soared up to 14th where he continued to hover until a few laps later when misfortune struck the team. During lap seven, a multi-car accident known as “The Big One” at Talladega happened and found over a quarter of the field sustaining heavy damage to their race cars, including the No. 26 Ford.
The incident occurred heading in to Turn 3 after the No. 24 and No. 17 tapped which forced the No. 24 to slide up the track and into the No. 71. The line of traffic behind these cars had no where to go, and without any way to quickly avoid the incident, McMurray and at least twelve other drivers found themselves with heavy damage to their race cars. The Crown Royal Ford was in the line behind the No. 71 and McMurray found himself sandwiched in the middle of the melee.
A total of nine cars were forced to the garage during the caution laps that followed and The Crown Royal team instantly tried to asses whether or not the heavily damaged car was repairable enough to return to the race. Every member of the Crown Royal team frantically analyzed the car but it was soon decided by crew chief Donnie Wingo that the No. 26 Ford’s afternoon was over. With just six laps completed in the 188-lap race, McMurray and his team were forced to leave Talladega with a 42nd-place finish Sunday.
“I don’t even really know what happened,” commented McMurray from the garage immediately after the crash. “I think we just got too many cars wide. You want to get mad, but it’s just Talladega and that’s what the fans pay to come see is good, hard racing, but certainly it’s awful early to have a big wreck like that. All we can do is look ahead to next week’s race and focus on Richmond.”
Brad Keselowski won Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway and in the process claimed his first career Sprint Cup Series win in a dramatic fashion after his block sent McMurray’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Carl Edwards, airborne. Edwards had been in the lead, and looked like he was about to win the race, until the incident happened and instead found Keselowski with the checkered flag in hand. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Ryan Newman rounded out the Top-3 finishers in Sunday’s action-packed race.
Next weekend the Sprint Cup Series returns to short-track racing at Richmond International Raceway for the Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400. Pre-race television coverage begins on Saturday, May 2nd at 7:00 p.m. E.S.T. on FOX. Radio coverage will be provided by the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400
Richmond International Raceway (0.75-mile speedway)
Saturday, May 2, 2009