Talladega II: Jamie McMurray race report

Davey Allison smiles down as McMurray puts "BattleStar" in the lead at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala., (September 28, 2003) --- There was someone smiling down today at Talladega Superspeedway when the green flag waved on the EA Sports 500. NASCAR ...

Davey Allison smiles down as McMurray puts "BattleStar" in the lead at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala., (September 28, 2003) --- There was someone smiling down today at Talladega Superspeedway when the green flag waved on the EA Sports 500. NASCAR Winston Cup rookie Jamie McMurray was sporting the retro colors of "BattleStar", the paint scheme made famous by Davey Allison during his 1987 rookie season. McMurray's red, white, gold and black No. 42 Havoline Dodge paced the field early in the race as the stands roared with excitement as history came to life.

McMurray would finish the EA Sports 500 in the 16th position after getting shuffled out of the draft late in the race. The day, however, would be one of accomplishments, as McMurray scored his best NASCAR Winston Cup restrictor-plate finish.

"I led a little bit there at the beginning," McMurray said. "While we were leading, I just kept thinking how cool it was to have this Davey Allison Havoline paint scheme in the lead for all of Davey's fans and for the Allison family."

"We just weren't fast when we needed to be," McMurray added. "I'm pretty happy that we finished. We haven't finished on these restrictor-plate tracks all year long. That's not great, but we beat Greg (Biffle) again in the Raybestos Rookie race. The No. 01 car got into me a little bit on pit road during one of the stops, and it knocked me into the No. 24 and just poked a hole in the nose. That really didn't hurt us. I mean, we were pretty fast there at the end again. I just couldn't time it out right. I think the Havoline Dodge was up to about seventh on the next to last lap and I lost all that. I thought I finished about fifth (laughs) by the way it looked."

After a strong qualifying run on Friday, McMurray's "BattleStar" Havoline Dodge rolled off from the second position. McMurray had a "passenger" riding with him on lap three as the Havoline Dodge rocketed into the lead in front of Allison's "hometown" fans at Talladega. McMurray would hold the point for several laps.

As McMurray headed down pit road during a green flag stop on lap 51, his Havoline Dodge was hit from behind by the No. 01 of Mike Skinner. The contact shoved McMurray into the back of Jeff Gordon. As a result, a hole was punched in the left-side nose of McMurray's car.

During the caution period, McMurray and the Havoline team would make several pit stops to repair the damage. McMurray restarted the race in the 27th position.

"BattleStar" once again rocketed through the field and by lap 108 McMurray was running fifth. When the caution flag waved on lap 126, McMurray headed for pit road and was serviced with right-side tires and fuel. By lap 138, McMurray's Havoline Dodge was running fourth.

McMurray would head for pit road again on lap 143 as the caution flag waved. McMurray would take fuel only and exited pit road as the leader.

With 25 laps to go, McMurray found himself running ninth and still within striking distance of the leaders. He would fall back to 17th with 10 laps to go.

The race was red-flagged on lap 182 as Elliott Sadler was involved in a violent crash on the backstretch that saw his car flip and roll numerous times before coming to a stop Once the race was restarted with four laps remaining, McMurray was sitting in the 16th position. With the action getting dicey up front, it became clear it was anyone's race as the field was running three and four wide.

McMurray found himself caught in the middle of the pack and unable to advance. When the checkered flag fell, McMurray's Havoline Dodge came across the line in the 16th position.

McMurray's 16th-place finished allowed him to gain one spot in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. McMurray leaves Talladega 17th in points. He also continued to build on his lead in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings as he now holds a 21-point lead over Greg Biffle.

It was a special weekend for McMurray as Havoline paid tribute to Davey Allison. Allison, who made the Havoline car famous in NASCAR, passed away on July 13, 2003 when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in the infield at Talladega Superspeedway.

As part of the 10-year anniversary celebration to remember Allison this weekend at Talladega, McMurray spent this past Thursday in Allison's hometown of Hueytown, Ala. McMurray visited with Allison's parent's, Bobby and Judy, and got a tour of Allison' childhood home. He also spent time with Allison's widow Liz, and their children, Robbie and Krista. McMurray visited landmarks that played a pivotal role in Allison's racing career and life.

"This whole weekend has been an incredible experience for me," McMurray said. "I've had the opportunity to meet the Allison family and have gotten to see and experience things that few will ever get the chance to do. I'm very thankful to Havoline for allowing me to get this opportunity of a lifetime."

Next up for McMurray and the Havoline team is Kansas Speedway this Sunday for the running of the Banquet 400. McMurray, a native of nearby Joplin, Mo., will be a fan favorite when the Havoline Dodge takes to the track.

Qualifying is set for Friday with the green flag waving at 12 noon CST on Sunday. The race will be televised LIVE on NBC.

-cgr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Mike Skinner , Jamie McMurray , Elliott Sadler , Davey Allison