Martinsville II: Jamie McMurray race report

McMurray battles back to score top-10 finish in Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va., (October 19, 2003) --- What started out as a bumper car race today for Jamie McMurray turned into another strong performance as the No. 42 Havoline Dodge scored ...

McMurray battles back to score top-10 finish in Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va., (October 19, 2003) --- What started out as a bumper car race today for Jamie McMurray turned into another strong performance as the No. 42 Havoline Dodge scored eighth-place honors in the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The finish was McMurray's 12th top-10 of the season and his fifth top-10 finish in the last six races. As a result, McMurray vaulted into the top 15 in NASCAR Winston Cup Series points.

"We didn't have a very good car and it seemed like actually once we got wrecked the car was better," McMurray said. "I don't know if the car got better or if I just got angry and started driving harder. We came from the back three or four times and drove all the way up there and then pit strategy worked our way. It was a pretty good day for the Havoline Dodge."

"I don't know how many top-10s that is in a row, but that's really good," McMurray added. "It just seems like every week it gets better. Hopefully we can start finishing in the top-five and maybe win a race before the year is over."

After qualifying 17th, McMurray radioed to the Havoline crew early in the race that his car was "loose in, and tight in the middle." By lap 100 McMurray was running 13th.

The bumper car race started for McMurray on lap 136 when a pileup unfolded coming out of turn four. As cars began to check up all around him, McMurray's Havoline Dodge bounced around off several cars. McMurray was able to continue around the melee, but his Dodge suffered cosmetic front-end damage.

McMurray would make numerous stops on pit road during the caution period as the Havoline team made repairs to the car. During one of the stops, McMurray ran over the air hose exiting the pit box. The penalty for such an infraction is having to start from the tail end of the longest line on the restart. An error by a NASCAR official saw McMurray come back down pit road to serve a 15-second penalty, resulting in McMurray going one lap down to the leaders.

However, as soon as NASCAR realized the mistake, McMurray was credited with being on the lead lap again.

Now at the back, McMurray clawed his way through the field as his Havoline Dodge was running 22nd by lap 265.

By lap 350 McMurray had worked his way up to 14th, and when the caution flag waved a few laps later, he headed for pit road to get four fresh tires and fuel as the crew made a track bar adjustment to free the car up. McMurray exited the pits in the 14th position.

Crew chief Donnie Wingo would use pit strategy on lap 403 as McMurray stayed out when the caution flag waved. As a result, McMurray restarted the race from the ninth position.

As the laps clicked off, McMurray maintained his top-10 running position and when the checkered flag waved, the Havoline Dodge shot across the finish line in eighth place.

McMurray's 12th top-10 finish of the season moved him up to 15th in NASCAR Winston Cup Series points. McMurray also extended his lead in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year battle with Greg Biffle as McMurray was the highest finishing rookie for the 18th time this season and for the ninth consecutive race.

Next up for McMurray and the Havoline team is the fast, 1.5-mile oval of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 can be seen this Sunday at 12 noon EST on NBC.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Jamie McMurray