McMurray looking for sliver of hope in otherwise lost season
SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Even when things are difficult, Jamie McMurray usually finds a way to smile. Known as one of the most-likeable optimists in NASCAR, even his enthusiasm has been tested this year a run of bad luck – and even worse finishes.
He won three races last year, including the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. He’s back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to defend his Brickyard win. More important, he’s at the most-famous track on the planet trying to find some solace in a lost season.
“Well, it’s been really frustrating to have such a good season last year and struggle so much this year,” he said after finishing 25th in Friday’s final practice session. “You know, our performance has been better I feel like the last 10 races. But it’s the same thing: we’re on our third engine failure of the year, we broke one transmission. It feels like if we do have a race that things start going our way, then you have a flat tire. We’ve had six or eight flat tires this year. We ran out of gas at Loudon.
“It just seems like if it could go wrong, it has.”
McMurray was poised to be a contender for the Chase for the Championship this season. Instead, his Chip Ganassi Racing team is looking to salvage the year. McMurray is 29th in the current point standings with a season-best effort of seventh at Martinsville, Va. He’s finished 19th or worse in eight of his last nine races.
Even a wild card spot into the playoffs now seems remote, especially since the two wild card entries must be ranked no worse than 20th.
“Even winning one race, I don’t think you’d get the wild card because of the points you’d have to make up,” he said. “Maybe if you win a couple, you would have a shot at that.
“But honestly, I mean, our goal right now for the rest of the year is just to get our team back where it was at this time last year and hopefully to be more consistent in the races. A lot of it’s not our doing. You can’t help flat tires, three blown up engines.”
Despite his problems, McMurray still tries to find reasons to feel positive. Any win would help dull the pain of all the other failures.
“Gosh, you just have to keep your head up and not focus I guess on all the negative stuff,” he said. “Honestly, I mean, it’s just about working on next year already.”
BIFFLE PACES PRACTICE: Greg Biffle posted the fastest lap in two practice sessions Friday for the Brickyard 400. His No. 16 American Red Cross Ford was clocked at 178.310 mph.
Martin Truex Jr. was second fastest, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.
There’s another session planned for 10 a.m. today. Pole qualifying is at 3:10 p.m.
Denny Hamlin was 18th quickest, but his engine blew up with a few minutes remaining in the practice. His team will have to change engines.
PASTRANA PARKED: The widely-anticipated NASCAR of daredevil Travis Pastrana was postponed Friday after he broke his right foot and ankle while competing in the best trick category Thursday at the X Games.
“I got an amazing, sweet email from him last night saying how devastated he was, but how passionate he was about putting that behind him and getting on with his NASCAR career,” car owner Michael Waltrip said. “We’re targeting Richmond as our next start. He’s going to work with his doctors and find out if that’s realistic and make sure that that is something that we can look forward to. His debut is delayed.”
Pastrana was supposed to drive one of Waltrip’s Toyotas in tonight’s Nationwide Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway.