Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Strong Charlotte Performance Puts McMurray in Contention
CONCORD, N.C. – After advancing to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 for the first time in his career, Jamie McMurray kicked-off the second round with one of his best performances of the season.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver finished fifth in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, capturing his third top-five and 16th top-10 of 2017.
By taking advantage of the added grip applied in the upper lanes and seeing an improved performance out of his pit crew, McMurray remained up front throughout the race.
“I was really good in the sticky stuff,” McMurray said. “It seemed like other guys were struggling. Then after that, we were still really good, it was just pretty hard to pass, but our pit crew did awesome today. I know we talked about it going into the playoffs that we felt that was a weakness and today was unbelievable for those guys.”
Had it not been for stellar work on pit road today in addition to improved speed, McMurray doesn’t believe he would have fared as well.
“Honestly the pit crew was what got us where we were along with a good car,” McMurray said.
Gaining positions during pit stops also meant scoring additional points in each stage and at the finish, which McMurray needed after resetting last on the Playoff Grid following the Round of 16.
By placing third in Stage 1 and 10th in Stage 2 on Sunday, he earned a valuable nine additional points that could make the difference between advancing or being eliminated after Kansas.
“I was worried with where we started being able to get any stage points,” McMurray said. “Our car’s so fast in the beginning, and then we had an awesome pit stop, so that was cool. We actually finished third in the first stage. Just a really good day for both our cars.”
He now sits eighth in the standings, one point above the first cutoff spot heading to Talladega Superspeedway where the unpredictability of plate racing could shake up the points.
However, McMurray is known for his plate racing prowess. He won the Playoff event at Talladega in 2013 and finished second in May but understands that there are no guarantees.
“There’s nothing you can do there,” McMurray said. “I know that we’ll have a shot to win and I also know that we’ll have a shot to get in a crash.”
Staying up front throughout the race would be McMurray’s best course of action, and his approach reflects that.
“We’ll try to race hard all day long and try to get as many stage points as we can and try to win the race, that’s our goal,” McMurray said.
Not many expected McMurray to be a significant Playoff contender, but after surviving the first round and coming alive at Charlotte, he could be the underdog of the post-season.
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