Rockingham: Jamie McMurray race report

McMurray marches forward at Rockingham to score top-five honors. ROCKINGHAM, N.C., (February 23, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray and North Carolina Speedway have a love affair with one another. McMurray continued his successful runs at "The Rock" today...

McMurray marches forward at Rockingham to score top-five honors.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C., (February 23, 2003) --- Jamie McMurray and North Carolina Speedway have a love affair with one another. McMurray continued his successful runs at "The Rock" today as he scored fifth-place honors in the Subway 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race.

McMurray's fifth-place finish is his third top-10 in just eight NASCAR Winston Cup Series races. In his last three NASCAR starts at North Carolina Speedway, McMurray has one victory (Busch Series), two top-five and two top-10 finishes. McMurray finished 15th in his first Winston Cup start at the speedway last fall.

After starting seventh, McMurray used patience and skill for 393 laps to score the top-five finish. "Man, I'm excited for all these guys," McMurray said. "Donnie (Wingo, his crew chief) did a really good job today making calls. He did a couple of things that I had never really done before and I didn't know, so we tried it and it worked really well. They adjusted on the car all day and I felt like the racetrack changed and I felt like we kept up with it."

"The last 30 laps were pretty much half-throttle since I was trying to save fuel because we didn't figure we could make it," McMurray added. "We were kind of gambling on that. We ran up front all day so I'm happy. I'm proud of everyone on the Havoline team. This is a brand new team and Donnie and the guys did a great job in the pits all day."

In the early stages of the race, McMurray radioed the crew his No. 42 Havoline machine was a little loose coming off the corners. During a caution period on lap 45, McMurray made his way down pit road as the Havoline team serviced the car and made air pressure adjustments.

During the middle stages of the event, McMurray maintained a top-10 running position as the crew continued to make chassis adjustments to correct the loose in, tight off condition. By lap 207 McMurray was running in the seventh position.

As the race progressed, McMurray was clicking off lap times that were quicker than the leaders as the No. 42 Havoline Dodge continued its march to the front. McMurray maintained the seventh-place position by lap 320.

As the race reached the closing stages, McMurray continued his assault on the field as he began to advance positions with each completed lap and radioed the crew "the car is great."

With 10 laps remaining, McMurray was running sixth, and when the checkered flag waved, McMurray's No. 42 Havoline Dodge crossed the finish line in fifth-place.

"To take a new team to Rockingham and finish fifth is having a good day," added crew chief Donnie Wingo. "We stayed in the top-10 most of the day, so everything went really good."

McMurray and the Havoline team now set their sites on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend for the running of the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400.

-cgr-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jamie McMurray