Rockingham: Jamie McMurray race report

McMurray's Magic Continues at "The Rock" with Third-Place Finish ROCKINGHAM, N.C., (February 22, 2004) --- Jamie McMurray's love affair with North Carolina Speedway continued today as the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge scored third-place honors...

McMurray's Magic Continues at "The Rock" with Third-Place Finish

ROCKINGHAM, N.C., (February 22, 2004) --- Jamie McMurray's love affair with North Carolina Speedway continued today as the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge scored third-place honors in the Subway 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. The finish marked McMurray's second top-five finish in the last four NEXTEL Cup races at Rockingham.

"People who like this place run well, and those that don't seem to struggle," McMurray said. "I really enjoy racing at Rockingham and our Texaco/Havoline Dodge was pretty balanced all day. Our car was too loose at the start, but Donnie (Wingo, crew chief) kept adjusting on it and made it better every pit stop. The 17 and 9 were both better than us most of the day. It wasn't like we messed up at the end, we just didn't get our car adjusted to out run those guys."

"We led at the first of the race and then faded back a little, but once we got back to the lead I thought we had a shot to win the race," McMurray added. "I feel like we had about a third-place car, but when I saw the 17 and 9 pit and then the caution came out, I thought it was a lucky deal and it was going to happen for us today, but it didn't work out that way. I'm a little disappointed, but I guess it's good to be disappointed when you finish third."

After qualifying second, McMurray quickly took charge at the front of the field when the Texaco/Havoline Dodge grabbed the lead on lap three. McMurray would hold the top spot until lap 40 when the caution flag waved. During the pit stop, McMurray was fitted with four Goodyear Eagles and fuel as the crew made several chassis adjustments to correct a "tight in the middle, loose off" condition. McMurray exited pit road in second place.

As the laps clicked off, McMurray radioed his crew that his Texaco/Havoline Dodge was "really loose off." During a caution period on lap 131, McMurray headed for pit road to allow the Texaco/Havoline crew to make numerous chassis adjustments. He re-entered the race in the 10th position.

As the race reached the halfway point, the Texaco/Havoline Dodge was running in the fifth position as McMurray continued to fight a loose handling racecar.

When the caution flag waved on lap 264, McMurray headed for pit road again and was fitted with four tires and fuel while another round of chassis adjustments were made to the Texaco/Havoline Dodge. A lightning fast pit stop enabled McMurray to leave pit road in the second position.

McMurray grabbed the lead again on lap 304 and held it until lap 331 when he was passed by eventual race winner Matt Kenseth.

A caution flag on lap 358 would provide the dramatic set up to the finish of the race. As the caution flag waved, leaders Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne were on pit road while McMurray remained on the track.

While McMurray came down pit road during the caution, Kenseth and Kahne remained on the track after being able to complete their pit stops on pit road when the caution waved. After several minutes of discussion with NASCAR officials, it was determined that McMurray would line up third when the race resumed.

The closing laps provided a spirited battle for the win between McMurray, Kenseth and Kahne, with Kenseth coming out the victor when the checkered flag waved and McMurray finishing in the third position.

McMurray led the Subway 400 four times for a total of 76 laps. The third-place finish vaulted the Texaco/Havoline team up to 11th place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points standings, only 115 points behind leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

McMurray and the Texaco/Havoline team get a weekend off before returning to action on March 7 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Jamie McMurray