McMurray tames "The Monster Mile" as Havoline Dodge scores sixth-place honors DOVER, Del., (September 21, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray's hot streak in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing continued today as the No. 42 Havoline Dodge scored sixth-place...
McMurray tames "The Monster Mile" as Havoline Dodge scores sixth-place honors
DOVER, Del., (September 21, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray's hot streak in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing continued today as the No. 42 Havoline Dodge scored sixth-place honors in the MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway. The finish was McMurray's ninth top-10 of the season and his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. McMurray earned Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year honors for the 14th time this season, including in seven of the last eight races.
"I really think that if we hadn't had the flat left rear tire that we would have had a shot to win the race," McMurray said. "We put ourselves in position. I think we were third or fourth and came out from the pit stop and tire was flat. I never even made a lap. I had to come back in and we were like 20th with 180 laps to go. It's so hard to pass here. The way the new rule is with the lapped cars all being on the inside and so many of them it's just tough. Even though the racetrack is wide, it's still hard to pass. All in all, it was a pretty good day for the Havoline Dodge."
"Really, since Chicago, we've been a top-10 car every single week," McMurray added. "I'm looking forward to the rest of this year and especially starting over next year on the points. I think we've shown this Havoline team is capable of running up front on a weekly basis."
After the threat of Hurricane Isabel forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying on Friday at Dover, the field was set according to current 2003 car owner points, which placed McMurray's Havoline Dodge 18th on the starting grid.
In the early stages of the race McMurray began his charge through the field and was running seventh by lap 60 as he radioed the crew that his car was "loose in and tight in the middle."
During a caution period on lap 79, McMurray headed for pit road with the leaders and was serviced with four tires and fuel as the Havoline crew made an air pressure adjustment to correct the handling condition. A lightning fast 13.56-second pit stop enabled McMurray to exit pit road in the seventh position.
As the race began to reach the halfway point, McMurray's Havoline Dodge was clicking off lap times quicker than the leader and by lap 215, the Joplin, Mo. native was running in the fourth position.
A caution period on lap 237 would prove costly for McMurray and the Havoline team. As the crew was completing the pit stop, the impact wrench made contact with the valve stem on the left rear tire, causing it to go flat. As McMurray exited pit road, he radioed to crew chief Donnie Wingo that he had a left rear flat tire.
McMurray was forced to return to pit road the next lap and was fitted with four new Goodyear Eagles. As a result of the flat tire, McMurray restarted the race in the 18th position.
McMurray and the Havoline team would not be denied a strong finish, and as the laps clicked off, McMurray began his assault on the field again and by lap 343, the Havoline Dodge was running ninth.
With 25 laps to go, McMurray was running in seventh place, and when the checkered flag waved, the Havoline Dodge crossed the finish line in the sixth position.
McMurray's sixth-place finish enabled him to gain some ground in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. While McMurray remains 18th in the point standings, he is only 104 points out of 15th place.
McMurray also extended his lead over fellow Raybestos Rookie contender Greg Biffle. McMurray now holds a 19-point advantage over Biffle in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year point standings.
Next up for McMurray and the Havoline team is the EA Sports 500 next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. McMurray will pay tribute to the legacy of Davey Allison as his Dodge will sport the paint scheme from Allison's 1987 rookie season.