|Race winner Jamie McMurray|
Car owner Chip Ganassi got the expected result from an unexpected source in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as race winner Jamie McMurray joined one of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing’s most exclusive clubs.
Restarting second thanks to a two-tire call on a Lap 140 pit stop, McMurray powered his No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet past Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 Chevy on a restart with 11 laps left and pulled away to beat Harvick to the finish line by 1.391 seconds.
“I get to kiss the bricks,” McMurray said after he crossed the stripe, adding another milestone to his career and Ganassi’s unbelievable year.
McMurray gave Ganassi his first Daytona 500 win in February. In May, Dario Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500 in one of Ganassi’s cars. On Sunday, Ganassi hit the unprecedented trifecta. No other car owner has won all three major races, much less in the same year.
At the same time, McMurray joined Dale Jarrett (1996) and Jimmie Johnson (2006) as the only drivers to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year.
“I’m the luckiest guy on the planet,” Ganassi said. “You wouldn’t dare to dream this. You wouldn’t dare to dream this kind of year.”
The Brickyard victory, however, had a bittersweet edge to it. McMurray’s teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, tabbed as the driver more likely to finish the triple for his owner, did nothing to dispel that notion early on. Montoya led a race-high 86 laps but lost the lead when six teams—including those of McMurray and Harvick—opted for two tires on the Lap 140 pit stop under caution for debris. Montoya took four tires.
Montoya foundered in dirty air, dropped four positions and ultimately lost control of his car and crashed on Lap 145. For the second straight year, the Brickyard 400 ended in heartbreak for Montoya, who led 116 of 160 laps last year only to be thwarted by a pit road speeding penalty.
Greg Biffle finished third in his No. 16 Ford, the only non-Chevrolet to qualify in the top 10. Clint Bowyer was fourth and Tony Stewart fifth. Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch completed the top 10.
McMurray was concerned when Harvick passed him two laps after a restart on Lap 143.
“When Kevin got by me a few laps from the end, I thought it was over,” McMurray said. “It’s unreal right now. How about Chip winning the (Indianapolis) 500 and both of these big races? We’re just a great team right now.
“Honestly, when Juan was leading and I was in second (before the debris caution on Lap 137)—I’m a big believer in fate—I thought this was how it was meant to be. I won the Daytona 500, Dario won the 500, and I thought Juan was going to win this one. I’m just shocked I won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year.”
Harvick was philosophical. He could afford to be, having increased his Cup series lead to 184 points over second-place Jeff Gordon, who finished 23rd.
“We took a gamble there at the end to take two tires,” Harvick said. “On the first restart (Lap 143), it took off great. We were able to run Jamie down and pass him. Second restart (Lap 150), it didn’t take off so great. Just got tight. He drove around the outside of me.
“I guess just the first cycle on those new right-side tires carried us through. We were just tight the whole second restart. But still — a great day. Took a chance to try to win the race. All but capitalized on it and came up one short.”
MICHAEL McDOWELL (No. 55 PRISM Motorsports Toyota, 42nd): "I got caught up in that first-lap accident. We must have stuffed some dirt into the carburetor. We tried to clean the carburetor, but it didn't work."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota, 40th): "In that first-lap accident, we got into the grass. We broke the splitter and knocked the bottom end out of the radiator. We fixed those, but we picked up a vibration we couldn't get rid of."
DAVE BLANEY (No. 66 PRISM Motorsports Toyota, 41st): "We had a transmission problem in practice, and it just kept getting worse. So we pulled it out."
TODD BODINE (No. 64 Fred's Hometown Discount Store Toyota, 37th): "We had a vibration in the gearbox, and it got to rattling so bad I had to park it."
CLINT BOWYER (No. 33 Wheaties Fuel Chevrolet, fourth): "It was awesome, a lot of fun, and what we needed. It was a good run and a good points race for us. I wasn't what we wanted, but it was what we needed."
TONY STEWART (No. 14 Old Space/Office Depot Chevrolet, fifth): "It feels almost like a win, to be honest, about it because when we finished Happy Hour yesterday, I was in doom-and-gloom mode and I was honestly about a 20th-place race car. I'm really proud of Darian Grubb, our crew chief, because of just how hard he fought staying up and working and trying to figure out how to give us a better race car today. And the pit crew really stepped up. They gave me two awesome pit stops and got me up front. I mean, they got us in position so we could at least fight for a top five." (How much did the racetrack change after rain last night?): "The place is real temperature-sensitive and real rubber-sensitive, and just starting off today with the rain that we had, it didn't pull off all the rubber, but it pulled off enough of the rubber that the cars were pretty free in the beginning. But by the time we got to the competition yellow at Lap 15, it had got back to pretty much where it was at Happy Hour. The track really didn't change a lot. I thought it would keep tightening up all day, but it seems like after we got 20 to 25 laps into it, it just settled in to where it was."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, 23rd): "I saw the 9 and the 29 come together a little bit while we racing hard and got a good run on them to pick up a couple positions. We really struggled with the DuPont Chevrolet today. Track position is so important here, and we see that all the time. We had a good car here at times, but it was just not a good enough one to drive up through there. We're doing our best to try and take advantage of the situation, and all of a sudden I felt a big vibration. I thought I had a loose wheel, but they said the splitter was vibrating and then it must have broken off and cut the right side tires. I just went for a ride and got pretty lucky. We did tear up the car a little bit in Turn 1, fixed it as best we could and brought it home." (About the spoiler and the right side tire wear): "It's a huge difference from what we used to have. This tire lasts with no problem. The problems that we had were purely because we ran over something. I give Goodyear a lot of credit there. We were really struggling with trying to pass. My car didn't feel any better from Lap 1 to Lap 15. I think there's some things they can do to improve it, if they can keep the wear in a good spot. Right now, with this surface at Indy, our cars, and as much as we use up the right side tires, I think this is probably the best of both worlds."
KYLE BUSCH (No. 18 M&M's Toyota, eighth): "I don't know what happened on that spin on the first lap. I guess I just lost it. It really didn't have any impact on the car, I don't feel like. Minor, maybe, on the straightaway speed. It was just a mistake made early that almost got us in big, big, trouble, but fortunately we came back. I felt like everything was fine, and the car handled all right. We were a little bit tight all day. We kind of got it loose a couple of times and were fast that way, but it was so edgy to drive, I didn't want to wreck the thing. We just needed a solid run today. We just need to find the speed somewhere else and not be so much on edge. It's so aero-sensitive here. You are free by yourself out front when you have a straightaway before you get to the next car. And then you get behind somebody, and then you're plowing in a dogfight."
JIMMIE JOHNSON (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, 22nd): "I'm not really sure (what the problem was) with the car today. We had high expectations for the day. I just had a really bad understeer problem on the corner entering and into the center. We made some attempts during caution flags to make some big changes on pit road, but nothing really hooked the car up, so we'll have to dig in and find out what happened. You want to win every race you can, especially the big ones. I'm disappointed with today, but this track's been good for me with three wins in the last four years." (About racing the spoiler instead of the wing at IMS): "My car wasn't driving right, so it's tough to say, but I didn't see many people moving forward. You'd get one or two positions, and that was it. I think it's more difficult to pass with the spoiler because there's no air coming below the wing like we used to have and it allowed the air to get lower earlier. Now the spoiler is higher, and it makes a bigger hole behind the car."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, 27th): "I guess the 42 was in the fence, and when he come off of the wall I guess he wanted to go to pit road, and I was under the 47 and I couldn't miss him. I drove into the door of Marcos (Ambrose) and slammed into the back of the 42. I know he (Montoya) hit the wall there, and he was trying to get to pit road. I just wish he could have got his car further off the racing line when he was heading into the pit road. I just didn't really have much I could do. We had a great, great car. We were making it better. We were good at the start of the race - running with the best cars on the track, and then we got tight and we were really sh*t after that in the middle of the race. And then right around 50 or 60 (laps) to go, we pulled a rubber out of the left rear, and man, that thing was great. I was up there racing the 2, the 9 and those guys and was faster than them. We could have run in the top 10, I think." (Are you concerned about your Chase chances now?): "Ain't no reason worrying - it does what it does to it. There ain't much I can do about it. You know, it's disappointing, of course, but I ain't going to damn worry about it." (What happened with the grass in the grills of cars?): "The 39 had a flat and was real high in (Turns) 3 and 4, and everybody was scared he was going to spin out or come down the track or try to get that access road, and (Martin) Truex went below the concrete and hit the grass with his splitter, and that just carves it up like sod. You know, it just comes up in big chunks. And that went into all of the guys' grills behind him. I was running around there and was like, 'Why is everybody pitting?' And I looked down and my temperature was like 280, and I was like, 'Oh, all right, time to come on down.'" (Is it any consolation to you that you did run well?) "I think so. This is a b*tch, but what are you going to do? I can't help what happens to me out there. I didn't do it to myself this time, and my crew was good and we made some good adjustments on the car and we actually had made it better. We're getting better. We're still missing a little bit, but we're getting better. We ran like crap last week - real, real, bad - so it was good to run better. That's about as good as I think we are right there, and we've just got to find a little bit more. We're learning. But if we keep having this kind of luck, we're not going to make the Chase, and that's just something we'll just have to live with. But we'll keep working to try to make it."
DAVID RAGAN (No. 6 UPS Ford, 20th): "We had a right front going down and had to make a late pit stop, so it's unfortunate. Our UPS Ford was fast. I thought we had a top-12 car. We just didn't have enough there at the end. We had to give up all our track position and didn't have enough laps to get it back."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge, 30th): "I guess the 18 just got loose there (on Lap 1) turned around and hit us in the back end. I tried to do everything I could do to keep it out of the wall, but I couldn't get it done. It was a tough day today, that's for sure."
DENNY HAMLIN (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, 15th): "We were a little bit tight, but we were as good as anyone. There were a few cars that were a little bit better. It was all about track position today. After two laps on tires, everyone would just go single file, and nobody would do anything. It was frustrating from our viewpoint, but we made something out of a bad day."
BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 12 Penske Dodge, 19th): "It was a miserable, hot day. But we came away with a solid finish and got to take that and move on. We want to be better than that. We have got to keep working. It was about a 15th-place car all day. I got behind there on that first pit stop because we had to pit out of sequence with the grass on the grill. A lot of us got caught in that boat, and we just weren't quite able to recover."
||Bass Pro Shops / Tracker
||Shell / Pennzoil
||Old Spice / Office Depot
||The Home Depot
||Miller Lite / Vortex
||MasterCraft Doors / Menards
||Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto
||Kroger / Clorox
||Long John Silver's
||Martin Truex Jr.
||NAPA Auto Parts
||Dale Earnhardt Jr
||Amp Energy / National Guard
||Aaron's Dream Machine
||Sam Hornish Jr.
||In Pit |
||Kevin Conway *
||In Pit |
||In Pit |
||Fred's Hometown Discount Store
||In Pit |
||In Pit |
||In Pit |
||In Pit |
* Denotes Rookie