MIAMI, FL (November 15, 2003) -- The ...
MIAMI, FL (November 15, 2003) -- The #1 Dodge team ended the 2003 season with an opportunity for a final-race victory disappearing with fewer than 40 laps to go. After leading much of the day, driver Jamie McMurray radioed the crew to tell them the left rear tire had gone flat. He was forced to pit under green, losing a lap, which he was never able to get back.
McMurray finished in 20th position, the first car one lap down. Teammate David Stremme, who was in the #30 Braun Dodge, finished in 14th position. Following the race, Stremme was awarded the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year title. Kasey Kahne won the race; Martin Truex, Jr. was second, and Bobby Hamilton, Jr. crossed the line in third place.
McMurray started the Ford 300 in the 5th position, taking over the lead by lap 72, and maintaining a two-second lead on the newly banked 1.5 mile superspeedway. The #1 Dodge was loose in the beginning of the race, but on long runs its handling improved. In addition, some extremely quick pit stops helped the team stay near the front.
As the race was winding down, McMurray lost some track position in the pits when the #1 Dodge took four tires while some of the competitors took only two. McMurray re-started the race in fifth position and, within 10 laps had taken over the lead, leaving the field behind. That's when he radioed the crew with the distressing news about the flat tire. McMurray was able to pass all of the cars that were one lap down, but never had the opportunity to get back on the lead lap.
Teammate David Stremme fought through adversity all race, scraping the wall early, which led to aerodynamic damage to the right side of his car. He also fought tight conditions all day, but was able to stay on the lead lap and finish in the 14th position, the highest of any rookie. Stremme's performance was strong enough to enable him to clinch the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year title.
Following the race, McMurray stressed his disappointment, "I really thought we were going to have two weekends in a row in victory lane. The #1 crew gave me by far the fastest car on the track, and they should have a trophy to show for it. These things happen in racing, but it sure is disappointing."
Upon accepting his award for Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year, Stremme said he was honored to receive the prestigious award. "I want to thank James Finch and Yellow Transportation for giving me the opportunity to win the rookie-of-the-year award. Without their support, I would not be here today."
Phoenix Racing finished the season 8th in car owner's points. Jamie McMurray was 20th in drivers' points with 19 starts, and David Stremme was 22nd in drivers' points with 18 starts.