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McMurray Adds Brickyard To List of Victories

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 25 2010

Jamie McMurray enjoys his trip to Indianapolis. He won Sunday's Brickyard 400. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Jamie McMurray became king of the Sprint Cup Series’ big events Sunday when he won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With Sunday’s victory, McMurray joined Jimmie Johnson and Dale Jarrett as the only drivers to win both the Brickyard and Daytona 500 in the same year.

Kevin Harvick, the series point leader, finished second and Greg Biffle was third.

Juan Pablo Montoya led the most laps – 86 – but again had fell disappointingly short when his team opted to pit for four tires while leading with 23 laps to go. Six others took two tires and that pushed Montoya back to seventh on the restart and two laps later, he crashed while scrambling to make up lost position.

That crushed Montoya, who refused to comment immediately afterward. His equally crushed crew chief took the blame.

“Bad call,” Brian Pattie said. “Crew chief error. We should have taken two tires.”

But it did not crush his team owner, Chip Ganassi. That’s because Ganassi also owned the winning car.

“Pretty special,” Ganassi, one of whose IndyCar drivers, Dario Franchitti, also won this year’s Indianapolis 500, said. “My heart goes out to Juan. But this is a big, big win.”

McMurray’s heart went out to Montoya as well.

“It’s just remarkable to get to be here,” McMurray, who has now won three times in 2010, said. “I mean, I’m a big believer in fate.  I really believe that this was Juan’s weekend.  He had a really good tire test here.  He ran so well last year, had a chance to win the race.  I just think that things normally work themselves out.

“I’m looking with 15 or 20 laps to go and Juan is leading.  Not that I was content, but, If this is the way it’s supposed to be, then that’s just the way it is.  Then I was like, I’m going to be really happy for Chip and Juan and everybody at our team because this is really big.  It’s just a major accomplishment what we’ve all been able to put together.

“That team, the 42 team, has had some really good cars.  They just have had some bad luck and got put in bad position.  So, I don’t know, it was unfortunate for them.”

McMurray was second to Harvick on the final restart, which was brought out by Montoya’s crash and which was with 10 laps to go.

But McMurray quickly blew past Harvick and was never threatened.

“Well, you roll in a corner, your car doesn’t point in the right direction,” Harvick said of the restart. “For me the front tires started chattering, I had to wait for the throttle and wasn’t able to maintain the momentum through the corner I needed to.  Really the whole last run, I was just way too tight compared to how I took off.”

Greg Biffle finished third. His team, too, took four tires on the final pit stop and he, too, said it was the wrong decision.

“We would have pulled it off,” Biffle said. “We would have won that race if we would have put two tires on and that’s just as simple as it gets. Woulda, shoulda, coulda. It’s hard when we haven’t won in a year-and-a-half and Ford hasn’t won up to this point. That’s pretty hard.”

Clint Bowyer was fourth and Tony Stewart, a two-time winner at the Brickyard, was fifth.

Jeff Burton was sixth, Carl Edwards seventh and Kyle Busch seventh.

Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson had a tough day. He has handling problems, fell a lap back at one point and then finished 22nd.

Harvick heads to Pocono Raceway next week with a 184-points lead over Jeff Gordon, who finished 23rd Sunday.

Ganassi’s winning the Brickyard, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 all in the same year is unprecedented.

Of being at his best in the big events, McMurray said, “I think it’s coincidence a little bit that we’ve run well at all those big races. After sitting on the pole at Darlington and running second, then going to Chicago with the same car, sitting on the pole, finishing fifth, we had a car that they had given all the updates to, and we were going to bring here. I asked Bono (his crew chief, Kevin Manion), ‘Any chance we could bring the same car we ran at Darlington and Chicago?’  He’s like, absolutely. We raced Chicago Saturday. I went to the shop on Monday, the car was stripped down, they were taking it in to repair it.

“A lot of it has to do we brought our best stuff and the guys worked hard to get the car ready to come here. Felix said it’s because they pay more money. That might have something to do with it.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 25 2010
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