Clock is ticking away for Jamie McMurray
by Pete McCole

July 28, 2004

Go to our forums to discuss this article

Jamie McMurray

The clock is ticking, and Jamie McMurray can hear it ticking away, and with it his chances of being one of the lucky few who will race for the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship.

McMurray is one of several drivers on the outside looking in. He trails Ryan Newman by 134 points for 10th-place in the Championship standings, with only those in the top ten in points after the race at Richmond Int’l Raceway on Sept. 11 having a chance to move on to the 10-race Chase For The Championship.

Now, with just seven races to go before the Chase for the Championship begins at New Hampshire Int’l Raceway on Sept. 19, the pressure is on for the drivers, like McMurray, currently outside the top ten to step up.

“We had a meeting about all the races leading up to Richmond (in September), and we're just going to have to give a little bit more than what maybe we would," McMurray said. “You just can’t afford to have a DNF or ditch somebody off and end up wrecking yourself. I think from here on out we’re going to be thinking about it more than anything.

“We’re heading into the stretch of races that will determine the cut-off positions for the Chase for the Championship. We’re sitting 13th in points right now, but we have the top 10 in reach. We can’t afford to have any more DNF’s. We’ve got to step it up and come out of the box strong each week to get into the top 10.”

2004 is shaping up to be another up-and-down season for McMurray, now in his second full season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. He has four top-5 and nine top-10 finishes, including a surprising 2nd-place showing at the Infineon Raceway road course. But McMurray’s success this season has been tempered by five DNF’s, the most of his short career.

“Racing is so weird, it goes in cycles,” McMurray said. “It seems like if things are going your way you can hardly screw it up. You know every week your car is good and you’re always contending for the win and then you get another string and you can’t make the right decision or you make a bad pit call or you just can’t make the car handle.

For us it’s not bad, I ran seventh this week and we are totally disappointed with ourselves. I think it’s good to still run in the top 10 and be upset.”

After shocking the NASCAR world by winning his first race in just his second start back in October of 2002, McMurray has gone nearly two years - 60 races - without making another trip to victory lane in the Nextel Cup Series

“I’ve had like 50 other chances and I can’t win another one,” McMurray joked. “We’ve come close a few times. It’s so hard to win one of these and that’s why it was such a big deal to be able to win in your second start because it’s so tough to win these races. You can have the best car and not win the race or if things go your way you don’t have to have the best car and you can win the race.

“It’s tough and then when you see these guys win like Jimmy (Johnson) and Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) winning three this year. I mean it’s incredible that those guys have been able to do that. When things go your way that’s what happens. This whole sport is a huge cycle; you just have to hope that it’s your turn.”

Poor finishes in the last six races, including the DNF’s at Daytona and Michigan, have dropped McMurray from 11th to 13th in the standings and, aside from his second-place showing at Sonoma, have been frustrating for McMurray.

“We basically have said that we just couldn’t have any more DNF’s from here on out. But then we blew up at Michigan, and then didn’t finish at Daytona, so we had two DNF’s in the last six races, which is very disappointing.”

For McMurray, his best chances to make up ground may lay ahead with upcoming races at Indianapolis, Bristol and California – tracks where he scored three of his five top-5 finishes last season. All he needs is a little good luck on his side – and a little bad luck on everyone else’s.

“We’ve just got to keep fighting. There’s still, what, six-seven races before it’s over? You never know what’s going to happen in this sport,” said McMurray. “I never would have thought we wouldn’t finish two of the last races. Maybe those guys ahead of us will have that same problem and get us back to be close enough to make the cut.”

The author can be contacted petem@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article



Joe Gibbs Racing switches to Toyota camp

Earnhardt Jr. signs 5-year deal with Hendrick

Remembering Bill France Jr.

Earnhardt announces he is leaving DEI

When Earnhardt speaks, NASCAR community listens

NASCAR strikes back: Stewart fined, placed on probation

Stewart slams NASCAR

NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow makes debut Sunday

NASCAR happy with COT, may accelerate rollout

2007 NASCAR Media Tour Day 4

2007 NASCAR Media Tour Day 2

Who can ever forget Benny Parsons?

Championship is Johnson's to lose

Burton's misfortune shakes up title chase

Stewart on outside looking in

Cars Premiere: Hollywood meets NASCAR

What a difference a year makes

Knaus penalty is merely a slap on the wrist

Harvick to keep options open for 2007

Haas CNC announcement - NASCAR Media Tour Day 4

A visit to Penske South - NASCAR Media Tour Day 3

Highlights of NASCAR Media Tour Day 2

Evernham makes changes to improve team

Stewart crowned champion in New York

Stewart kept cool, eye on big prize

NASCAR to set 4-car team limit

NASCAR's 'Ironman" to step back in '06

The making of the next NASCAR movie

Roush brings Ford Five to the Chase

Gordon and McMurray, On the outside looking in

2005 NASCAR Media Tour Day 4

2005 NASCAR Media Tour Day 3

2005 NASCAR Media Tour Day 2

2005 NASCAR Media Tour Day 1

Kurt Busch dodges bullets to capture Nextel Cup title

Hendrick returns to track for first time since plane crash

Plane crash kills 10 from Hendrick Motorsports family and company

Kasey Kahne still hunting for first win

FedEx to sponsor third car for Jason Leffler

Terry Labonte announces scaled back schedule

John Andretti to drive for new ppc Racing team

Rusty Wallace announces his retirement plans

Burton finds stability at Richard Childress Racing

Earnhardt driving through injuries

Stewart hoping luck changes

Clock ticking away for McMurray

NASCAR drive to diversity kicks into high gear

Humpy Wheeler predicts the winner

NASCAR Schedule Realignment

Kasey Kahne vs. Jeff Gordon

A Texas homecoming for Bobby Labonte

The issue of Field Fillers in NASCAR

Craven vs. Busch: One year removed

Hometown start for rookie Kyle Busch

Awesome Bill decides on reduced schedule

Kenseth's view from the top

Bret Bodine is a small fish in a big pond

NASCAR Softball league

Tony Stewart Indy 500 rumors

Winning unrestricted, a Waltrip goal

Numbers make Gordon odds on Favorite at Darlington

Downforce key in Vegas

Benson bounces back

Would Winston really drop NASCAR?

UAW-GM Media Tour Day 3

UAW-GM Media Tour Day 2

UAW-GM Media Tour Day 1

Newman Crowned Raybestos Rookie

Bodine Discovers Probation 10/17/02

Silicon Motor Speedway

More Than Just A Race

Rudd Knocks On Wood

Nadeau Still Looking
For Home 8/09/02

Looking Up for Elliott
& Evernham 8/02/02

Progress Far From Petty 6/7/02

The Young Guns

This might be last Winston at Lowes 5/17/02

Humpy Wheeler Says

Highs and Lowes

Road and TRAC

Inside The Winston 4/11/02

In the Fast Lane at Texas 4/5/02

Time to take it out of Park  3/14/02

Will the One Engine Rule Work  2/25/02

Speed, Safety, Earnhardt Part 3  2/17/02

Speed, Safety, Earnhardt Part 2  2/16/02

Speed, Safety, Earnhardt Part 1  2/15/02

UAW-GM Motorsports Media Tour Day 5  1/19/02

UAW-GM Motorsports Media Tour Day 4  1/18/02

UAW-GM Motorsports Media Tour Day 3  1/17/02

UAW-GM Motorsports Media Tour Day 2  1/16/02

UAW-GM Motorsports Media Tour Day 1  1/15/02

Copyright 1999-2014  AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by the IRL., NASCAR, FIA,  Sprint, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.