Talladega II: Jamie McMurray - NASCAR spotlight

McMurray's advantage -- The race for 11th place The "man who wears the star." Far from an advertising jingle, it's Jamie McMurray's (No. 42 Havoline Dodge) slogan these days -- a jumpstart for his rest-of-the-season blueprint. Even though only...

McMurray's advantage -- The race for 11th place
The "man who wears the star."

Far from an advertising jingle, it's Jamie McMurray's (No. 42 Havoline Dodge) slogan these days -- a jumpstart for his rest-of-the-season blueprint.

Even though only eight weeks remain, the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season is hardly over, and McMurray has zeroed in on his target -- the 11th-place position in the season-ending point standings.

This year, the reward for the 11th-place finisher tops $1 million, and McMurray, who barely missed qualifying for the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup," currently occupies 11th place in the standings. He's also reeled off six consecutive top-10 finishes in his last six events. And if he maintains that pace, he'll earn not only the $1 million paycheck, but -- also new this season -- the resulting 11th-place invitation to the season-ending banquet in New York on Dec. 3.

"We felt that way when we didn't make the Top 10," McMurray said, fresh off last week's eighth-place finish at Dover. "It would be pretty cool to score the most points out of anyone in the last 10 races and show you deserve to be there."

Right now, McMurray looks as if he does. Instead of wallowing in the disappointment of not making the Top-10 cut following race No. 26 at Richmond, he's parlayed the challenge into a season-ending surge. He ranks second only to Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) for the best finishes over the last six races, and his 17 top-10s tie him with Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) for second-best behind Jeff Gordon's (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) series-high 20 top-10 finishes.

Still, "We've got to work on our program just a little bit," McMurray said. "We're a sixth- to 10th-place car right now and we need to step it up to be a top-five car. It would be cool to get to go to the banquet and feel like you earned your way there. We'll just keep digging and doing what we're doing."

"I think we've definitely shown over the last six or seven races how strong this Texaco/Havoline team is," crew chief Donnie Wingo said. "We've had a top five and top-10 car in all the most recent races. Jamie's been running his heart out and all the guys on this team are working better together as a team than we ever had."

Although he needs none, McMurray will have some blast-from-the-past motivation this week at Talladega Superspeedway. For Sunday's EA Sports 500, his No. 42 Dodge will sport a "Rising Star" paint scheme featuring one of Texaco/Havoline's well-known former logos. It's a nod to the company's year-long 100th-birthday celebration, and McMurray -- the latest driver behind the wheel of a Texaco/Havoline premier-series-sponsored car -- will join the family of Texaco/Havoline's first sponsored driver, Davey Allison, for a special ceremony Saturday night at the Davey Allison Memorial Park in Talladega. McMurray will help Liz, Robbie and Krista Allison, along with former premier-series champions Benny Parsons and Richard Petty, induct Richard's son Kyle (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge) into the Talladega/Texaco Walk of Fame.

"It's cool that Texaco/Havoline is going back and paying tribute to the history they have in NASCAR," McMurray said. "We ran a special tribute paint scheme last year at Talladega to honor Davey Allison and it's neat we're running another special one this year to honor Texaco/Havoline's heritage in this sport.

"I think it's a nice way to give long-time NASCAR fans something to remember the past by. I can't think of a better place to run this paint scheme than at Talladega given the history of the Texaco/Havoline car at that track."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Richard Petty , Benny Parsons , Mark Martin , Davey Allison