Las Vegas: Jamie McMurray race report

Perseverance Pays off for McMurray with Fourth-Place Finish LAS VEGAS, Nevada (March 7, 2004) --- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray and the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline team demonstrated today that perseverance pays off in the face of...

Perseverance Pays off for McMurray with Fourth-Place Finish

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (March 7, 2004) --- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray and the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline team demonstrated today that perseverance pays off in the face of adversity. McMurray rocketed back from an early race incident to score fourth-place honors in the UAW-DiamlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"Our program is really strong right now," McMurray said. "To fight back from where we were was really good. I got into trouble early, and fortunately I didn't go a lap down. We were getting really close. The caution came out and I got to come in. The right front fender got knocked in. It's unreal at a place like this what an inch on the fender can do. It went from terrible to really pretty good when we pulled it out."

"I thought we might have a shot at the end, but I never could get up there," McMurray added. "At the end, I was going to let the 9 (Kasey Kahne) and 20 (Tony Stewart) go. When I started letting off early, I started catching them again. It's one of those deals where you overdrive, but you do the best you can. We were tight pretty much all day and just kept sneaking up on it. At the end we were really good for about 40 laps. We have started off the season extremely well and I really think it's a sign of things to come with this Texaco/Havoline team."

After starting from the fourth position, McMurray radioed to his crew early in the race that his Texaco/Havoline Dodge was "tight in the middle and tight off." During an early caution period McMurray came to the attention of his pit crew and was serviced with four Goodyear Eagles and fuel while air pressure and track bar adjustments were made to the Texaco/Havoline Dodge. McMurray exited pit road in the fourth position.

McMurray's good fortune hit a wall, literally, on lap 65 when the Texaco/Havoline Dodge brushed the outside retaining wall coming off turn four. The impact was hard enough to pancake the right-side of the car. McMurray would spend the next several laps feeling out the car to access the damage.

As he began to fall back through the field, he received a break in the form of a caution flag on lap 88. McMurray made several pit stops during the caution period to allow the Texaco/Havoline team to make the repairs to the right side of his car. On the restart, McMurray lined up in the 28th position.

As the race reached the middle stages, McMurray was still fighting a tight condition and was running in the 12th position by lap 156.

The Texaco/Havoline pit crew flexed its muscle on lap 168 when the caution flag waved. During the lightning fast 14-second pit stop, McMurray was serviced with four tires and fuel while another air pressure adjustment was made. McMurray exited pit road in seventh place.

McMurray continued his march back to the front and was turning lap times quicker than the leader in the closing laps of the race. With 25 laps to go, the Texaco/Havoline Dodge was running fifth.

As McMurray pounced on the leaders in the final laps, he fell just shy of claiming the victory. When the checkered flag fell, the Texaco/Havoline Dodge was credited with fourth-place honors.

As a result of McMurray and the Texaco/Havoline team's "Never Give Up" attitude, the Joplin, Mo. native moved into a tie for eighth place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, only 138 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. This marks the first time in McMurray's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career that he has claimed a spot in the NASCAR Top 10.

In the first three races of the 2004 season, McMurray has posted two top-five finishes.

Next up for the Texaco/Havoline team is the fast, high-banked oval of Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of the Golden Corral 500 next Sunday.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne