McMurray Rockets to Top-10 Honors at Chicagoland JOILET, Ill., (July 14, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray proved once again the strength of his No. 42 Havoline Dodge yesterday as he scored eighth-place honors in the Tropicana 400 NASCAR Winston Cup...
McMurray Rockets to Top-10 Honors at Chicagoland
JOILET, Ill., (July 14, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray proved once again the strength of his No. 42 Havoline Dodge yesterday as he scored eighth-place honors in the Tropicana 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. The finish was McMurray's fourth top-10 of the season and vaulted the Joplin, Mo. native up one spot in the point standings. McMurray led for one lap and was once again the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race for the seventh time this season.
"We started out really strong, but the track changed and I was afraid to make too many changes to the car," McMurray said. "I was a little bit tight, but we just didn't keep up with our car all day like we should have. Eighth is still pretty good for us. We've been about a 15th-place car every week, so to bring it home eighth, I'm pretty happy with it. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. Hopefully we learned enough the first half to make a big difference in the last 18 races and put this Havoline Dodge up front on a weekly basis."
After qualifying 10th, McMurray wasted little time getting his Havoline Dodge to the front. By lap eight he had rocketed into fourth place and by lap 20, the Havoline Dodge was running third.
In the early stages of the race McMurray radioed the crew that his machine was a "little loose in, and tight in the center." McMurray inched one step closer to the front on lap 46 when he moved into second place.
During a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 57, McMurray was fitted with four tires and fuel as the crew made no changes to the car. When the green flag pit stop sequence was completed, McMurray found himself running in the second position.
The caution flag would wave a few laps later on lap 82. During the caution, McMurray headed for pit road to take four tires and fuel. While some of the lead cars took only two tires, McMurray exited pit road in the 12th position.
It didn't take McMurray long, however, to find his way back to the front, and by lap 104, McMurray was running seventh.
Several caution periods would follow, and knowing that fuel mileage is crucial at a track like Chicagoland Speedway, McMurray topped off his fuel cell with each ensuing caution.
On the restart on lap 113, McMurray quickly asserted pressure on the leaders and by lap 145 found himself once again running in the second position.
McMurray finally placed the Havoline Dodge in first place on lap 190 when the leader headed down pit road for a scheduled stop. After grabbing his five bonus points for leading a lap, McMurray made his way down pit road for a scheduled stop. When the green flag pit stop sequence had been completed, McMurray's Havoline Dodge was running in the third position.
As the race began to reach its final stages, McMurray began to fight a tight condition with his Havoline Dodge. During a caution period on lap 235, McMurray headed for pit road as the Havoline crew pulled a rubber out of the left rear and fitted McMurray with four fresh Goodyear Eagles. McMurray re-entered in the race in the 11th position.
With the laps winding down, McMurray tried to work his way back up through the field, but hit a roadblock when he reached eighth place. McMurray's machine would get really tight in traffic, and when the checkered flag waved, McMurray found himself earning eighth-place honors.
McMurray's eighth-place finish moved him up one spot in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. McMurray leaves Chicagoland 22nd in points. McMurray also gained some ground in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings. McMurray trails leader Greg Biffle by a mere eight points.
Next up for McMurray and the Havoline Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a two-day test Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the Brickyard 400 next month.
McMurray returns to racing action next Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. for the running of the New England 300.