McMurray Win Ties Second-Closest Finish Since ’93

DAYTONA BEACH — Point-0-0-5.

Five-one-hundredths-of-a-second. That’s close. Jamie McMurray didn’t care. It might as well have been five minutes, or five hours, five days, five weeks. He won.

McMurray couldn’t believe it. Charging back from an early race penalty, McMurray edged Kyle Busch by an eyelash, tying the second-closest finish since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993 before a screaming crowd of more than 100,000 race fans.

It was the second victory of McMurray’s career and it was well-deserved. He showed from the beginning after starting 15th he had a car that could win on this exciting night.

This one went right down to the wire. It was an oddsmaker’s nightmare with McMurray, Busch, Jeff Gordon and Casey Mears leading in the final few laps. McMurray persevered.

Following Busch was brother Kurt. Carl Edwards was fourth, Gordon fifth and Greg Biffle sixth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, who made a nice recovery from an early-race accident, Jimmie Johnson and David Gilliland, who ran in the top five towards the end before losing the handle and spinning out on the backstretch.

Caution flags throughout the race kept the evenly-matched field bunched together throughout the night. It was perhaps one of the most hotly-contested NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races, not to mention the unbelievably close finish.

McMurray was pinching himself afterwards because he was having a hard time believing it himself. His last win came in 2002 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. That race was his first and only for the Chip Ganassi team.

This one was his first for the Roush Fenway Racing Ford team but it very likely won’t be his last.

To start the dramatic night, Denny Hamlin passed Gordon on the third lap for the lead, just a few seconds before Jeff Green and Kasey Kahne crashed in the first turn to bring out the evening’s first caution.

On lap 11, last week’s winner Hamlin, became this week’s first big loser. Hamlin, leading the race, was tapped from the rear by teammate Tony Stewart, turned sideways and slid back up the track into Stewart, ending both drivers? hopes for victory on a hot, humid, Florida night. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was also damaged beyond competitive repair in this accident.

Bowyer took the lead after the caution and the action behind him looked like what you normally see on a Saturday night short track. Drivers swapped positions like trading cards before Tony Raines brought out the third caution flag spinning out in turn four.

McMurray led briefly before being black-flagged for going below the yellow line in passing Jeff Gordon for the lead.

The fourth caution of the race flew on lap 57 of the 160-lap event. Kevin Harvick, this year’s Daytona 500 winner, was bumped by Montoya and scrubbed the outside wall. A tire went down a lap later and Harvick lost time limping back to the pits before the caution flag was waved.

At 100 laps, Kurt Busch was in front with Johnson second, brother Kyle third, Kenseth next and JJ Yeley fifth.

Sterling Marlin cut a tire on lap 115, was clipped by David Gilliland, and brought out another caution. David Stremme, having a terrific run, pulled out of his pit after stopping and was rammed by Paul Menard. Stremme was running third when he pitted. The incident dropped him from contention.

Share Button