CUP: McMurray Out Early at Martinsville After Strong Weekend

James Pike Cup, Featured, NASCAR Leave a Comment

Jamie McMurray’s day at Martinsville Speedway ended early due to a cut tire and hard crash at lap 106 on Sunday. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

RIDGEWAY, Va. — Jamie McMurray only made it 106 laps in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway before his left-rear tire blew and sent the No. 1 car into the wall.

After restarting in the top 10 on lap 76, Jimmie Johnson made contact in Turn 1 with McMurray’s No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet. The contact bent the fenders around McMurray’s left-rear tire and caused a tire rub. The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver and crew debated whether or not to pit or to stay out

The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver and crew debated whether or not to pit or to stay out, and eventually opted for the latter. That decision would come back to haunt them, as the tire rub eventually cut down the left-rear and sent McMurray into the Turn 3 wall driver’s side first, ending his day.

The Joplin, Missouri native had put together a solid weekend leading up to the race. He had been in the top five in two of the three practice sessions over the weekend and had qualified sixth, which made the early exit on Sunday sting that much more.

After exiting the Infield Care Center with no problems, McMurray explained the decision-making process he went through with his team. “If the smoke hadn’t gotten lighter, I would have pitted,” he said. “If it was smoking really bad, we had to pit. But my team said ‘run a couple more laps’ and were getting a better idea of what it looked like and maybe where it was rubbing the tire.”

“Then the smoke got a little bit lighter and I thought we were gonna be ok and honestly, when I’m in the car, I was thinking ‘if we pit, we’ll lose three laps,’ and you’re never gonna make those up because of the way that the tires don’t have a tremendous amount of falloff here. I don’t think that you’re gonna be able to do the wavearounds and all that. I guess I wish we had, but there’s nothing you can do about it now.”

McMurray also explained the spin itself once he exited his car. “As I felt like the tire might be going down, I contemplated running higher on the race track to lessen the blow,” he said. “When the tire did blow out I could tell we were gonna hit driver’s side first, which is just a horrific way to wreck a car. But it didn’t hurt as bad as I was expecting. It got my feet and my crotch a little bit, but other than that, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be.”

Though set back by the accident, McMurray took a broader and positive view to his run. “It’s a really long year and you have days like today, but there will be other days that maybe should be bad and things work out and you get a good finish,” he said. “It’s frustrating, but I’m just really glad that we’ve run well again and cars are fast and we’ll go on to a new repave next week.”

The No. 1 car will return to the track next weekend for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway next Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM).

About the Writer

James Pike is a multi-faceted reporter for Race Chaser Online and an analyst on the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Pike is the lead correspondent for Race Chaser Online’s coverage of Australian Supercars and also covers regional touring series events in the Carolinas, including the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the CARS Tour.

He is a graduate of the Motorsports Management program at Belmont Abbey College and currently resides in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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