Bristol II: Chip Ganassi Racing race report

The Star shines bright in Bristol. BRISTOL, Tenn., (August 23, 2003) --- The No. 42 Havoline Dodge shined brightly tonight in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway as Jamie McMurray rocketed to a third-place finish. It was his fourth ...

The Star shines bright in Bristol.

BRISTOL, Tenn., (August 23, 2003) --- The No. 42 Havoline Dodge shined brightly tonight in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway as Jamie McMurray rocketed to a third-place finish. It was his fourth top-five and sixth top-10 finish this season. McMurray has more top-five and top-10 finishes than any other Raybestos Rookie and took top rookie honors for the 10th time this season.

"What a car," McMurray said. "We had good pit stops all night and I told (crew chief) Donnie Wingo when the race was over that he must be one smart crew chief because this is a totally different car than what we qualified or practiced. We weren't quite as good as the 97 there at the end, but I don't think we could have made it any better. I was driving my heart out. We'll take third from Bristol because this place is like a superspeedway race: it can bite you and you can have a really bad finish. I'm really proud of my guys on this Havoline team too because we struggled with pit stops at the beginning of the year and I think we beat out some of the best pit crews in the business out there tonight."

After qualifying 31st, McMurray wasted little time maneuvering his way towards the front. By lap 58 the Havoline Dodge was sitting in 22nd place. During a caution on lap 63, McMurray headed for pit road and was serviced with four tires and fuel.

By lap 88 McMurray had moved into the 20th position as he radioed the crew "the car's pretty good."

McMurray would be able to dodge numerous accidents in front of and around him throughout the night. At one point, he had to slam on the brakes hard to avoid hitting the spinning machine of Joe Nemechek.

As the race reached the halfway point, McMurray's Havoline Dodge was once again beginning its march to the front and by lap 223, the Joplin, Mo. native found himself running in the 10th position.

With a record number of caution flags during the race, McMurray and the Havoline team played a game of "Do What the Leader Does" with regards to pit stops. Each time the lead cars pitted, McMurray would follow suit. Lightning fast work by the Havoline crew enabled McMurray to leave pit road in record time and gain track position with each ensuing pit stop.

By lap 313 McMurray was running in the fourth position as a result of staying out during a caution period. On the restart, McMurray held his ground with the leaders and was running fifth on lap 378.

In the final 50 laps of the race, McMurray's Havoline Dodge was turning lap times as quick as the leader as he began his assault on the field. By lap 450 he was running third as he reeled in second place man Kevin Harvick.

As the laps were winding down, McMurray was not able to mount a pass on Harvick for second, but found himself in a spirited battle for third with Matt Kenseth.

As the checkered flag fell on race winner Kurt Busch, McMurray's Havoline Dodge came across the finish line in third place.

McMurray's third-place finish caps off a strong month of August for the Havoline team. McMurray kicked off the month with a third-place finish in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

McMurray gained one position in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings as he leaves Bristol 22nd in points. He also closed ground on leader Greg Biffle in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings.

It was a special weekend for McMurray and everyone affiliated with ChevronTexaco/Havoline Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing as the team debuted the new 2004 paint scheme for the Havoline Dodge in the Sharpie 500 tonight. With the famous "Texaco Star" prominently displayed on the hood, many fans and teams were reminded of the history and legacy of the Havoline car in NASCAR. In addition, a press conference was held to announce a special Davey Allison Tribute paint scheme that will be run next month at Talladega Superspeedway.

Next up for McMurray and the Havoline team is the historic Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C. for the running of the Mountain Dew Southern 500 next Sunday.

-cgr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Chip Ganassi , Davey Allison
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing