Interesting times for Jamie McMurry

by Monte Dutton

Interesting times for Jamie McMurry

Martinsville was a high point for Roush Fenway Racing driver Jamie McMurray. Sixth place marked his best finish of the season, only his fourth in the Top by Monte Dutton 10 and his first Top 10 since May.

McMurray, twice a winner at NAS- CAR’s highest level, looks to the future with uncertainty. With NASCAR insisting on a limit of four full-time cars per team, owner Jack Roush has to cut back his operation, making McMurray the most likely driver in the Roush stable to either move to another team or be shuffled elsewhere within the Ford contingent.

The 33-year-old driver from Joplin, Mo. won his second Sprint Cup race, but that was way back in October 2002, when he won at Lowe’s Motor Speedway substituting for injured Sterling Marlin. In 2007, McMurray picked up career victory No. 2 in Daytona’s July race.

“It was a really good day,” said McMurray of Martinsville Speedway’s Tums Fast Relief 500. “We made really good pit calls and had good pit strategy. Our car was better than average, so we just had a solid day.”

McMurray is a proponent of the “double-file restarts rule” implemented earlier this year. At the end of each caution period, cars restart in running order, similar to the beginning of a race. Lapped cars, formerly placed in one of the two lines, are now buried deep in the pack, leaving the leaders to race for position.

“If you have a fast car, you don’t have to do all the strategy stuff,” said McMurray. “If you’re struggling to stay on the lead lap, then maybe there’s something you can do there to work to your benefit.”

“It’s very, very exciting, I think, for the fans. Our sport is based on putting a good show on, and this is putting a better show on for the fans.”

McMurray ranks 22 nd in Sprint Cup points, 184 behind Kevin Harvick, 27 ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and 29 in front of 24 th -place Dale Earnhardt Jr. McMurray’s three best career finishes in the point standings all occurred while he drove Dodges for Chip Ganassi. He finished 13th in 2003, 11th in 2004 and 12th in 2005.

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press

Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week ( features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at (c) 2009 King Features Syndicate