Indianapolis: Jamie McMurray race report

McMurray motors to third-place finish in Brickyard 400 debut INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., (August 4, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray showed the poise of a veteran yesterday in the 10th running of the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. McMurray,...

McMurray motors to third-place finish in Brickyard 400 debut

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., (August 4, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray showed the poise of a veteran yesterday in the 10th running of the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. McMurray, who started 22nd in the prestigious race, grabbed the lead on lap 113 and looked ready to capture the win in his first visit to the famed racetrack until a late race caution foiled his bid. McMurray would finish the Brickyard 400 in third place, his best finish of the 2003 season.

McMurray's third-place finish was the best finish ever by a Raybestos Rookie in the Brickyard 400. It was his third top five and fifth top-10 finish of the season. The win also vaulted the Joplin, Mo. native up four positions in the point standings to 21st place.

"We didn't need the last caution, obviously, to come out," McMurray said. "I think we could have stayed ahead of all those guys. That's why they call it racing, I guess. You do what you can. We really didn't have that good of a car at the end. It seemed like two tires made the car tight and we were just kind of hanging on the last few laps."

"That's just the way that it is," McMurray added. "It's hard to pass here. At the beginning of the race we had a pretty good car and I could pass guys, but there at the end the two tires just weren't for us. Some of those guys ran pretty good on them but we just didn't have enough grip with two tires. I think if the caution hadn't come out we would have been in good shape but it didn't. This is the second biggest race of the year and to some it might be the biggest."

"We had one of the best cars all day and I think that's all you can ask for is to come each week and do your best and have the fastest car at times today," McMurray continued. "We just didn't have it at the right time. I'm disappointed that we didn't win, but I'm not disappointed in the performance of our team and our pit stops. We performed like a top quality race team today."

After starting 22nd in the event, McMurray wasted little time showing the strength of his No. 42 Havoline Dodge. By lap 29, he had rocketed into the fifth position as he radioed the team that his Dodge was "very balanced."

During a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 34, McMurray headed for pit road and was serviced with four fresh Goodyear Eagles and fuel. Lightning fast work by the Havoline crew enabled McMurray to re-enter the race in the seventh position.

McMurray continued his steady march to the front, and by lap 80 the Havoline Dodge was running third. Twenty laps later McMurray was running second, and on lap 113, the Havoline Dodge blasted into the lead.

Now the race leader, McMurray began to pull away from second place and built up a substantial lead over the field.

During another round of scheduled green flag pit stops on lap 133, McMurray and the Havoline team opted to take two right-side tires to maintain track position. After the green flag pit stop sequence had been completed, McMurray once again held the top spot.

A caution period on lap 145 would set the stage for McMurrray's bid for victory to slip away. On the restart, McMurray got pinned behind the lapped car of Dave Blaney heading into turn one. As McMurray got trapped on the outside lane, Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon shot past on the inside as McMurray slipped to third place. With the laps winding down, McMurray mounted another charge to grab the lead as he was engaged in a spirited battle with Robby Gordon and Matt Kenseth for second place.

When the checkered flag waved, McMurray's Havoline Dodge crossed the finish line in third place.

"We're all happy about that run," crew chief Donnie Wingo said. "We had, I think, the best car all day and we put ourselves in position to do it and we just kind of got bundled up behind all those cars and kind of got shuffled out. That killed us there at the end. I think if we had been out front we could have done what Harvick did."

"Jamie adapts so well everywhere you go," Wingo added. "He improves every week. He is so smooth and adapts real well to certain situations. He just does a super job."

Next up for McMurray and the Havoline team is the winding road course at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. for the running of the Sirius at the Glen next Sunday.

-cgr-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Robby Gordon , Jamie McMurray , Dave Blaney