A Win at Talladega,What Now for McMurray
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- When you're in the process of looking for a new job, it's never a bad idea to keep your resume updated. Jamie McMurray can now add "Winner, 2009 Amp Energy 500" to his.
But all that aside, how much winning Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway will help him land another ride is a matter of conjecture. Any Cup owner out there with an open seat already knew what to expect from McMurray's talents. The issue isn't driving ability, it's dollars and cents.
"There aren't a lot of rides available right now," McMurray said. "Everybody knows what rides there are out there and, certainly, if a sponsor were to call me, that would make it a lot easier.
"With the amount of teams that are shutting down there's not a lot of options out there, so I think everyone knows the cars that are available right now. For me, I just hope that we can get it signed and then announce it whenever they want to so that will make it a little bit easier to sleep at night."
McMurray is in this position because of NASCAR's mandate that no team field more than four Cup cars starting next season. As the odd-man out at Roush Fenway Racing, his name has been mentioned in connection with the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet being vacated by Martin Truex Jr. Other than that, the choices become narrowed down to teams with limited resources and revenues.
Still, McMurray is appreciative of Jack Roush's guidance, even if his way of encouragement wasn't too kind at the beginning.
"I said this kind of jokingly on TV, but my first year or so Jack was a little bit mean to me would be the easy way to put that," McMurray said. "[As far as] his motivating skills, he just wasn't pushing the right button.
"He's told me numerous times that everyone is motivated differently and Jack has become a really good friend of mine in the past year and he's learned to push the right button, I guess, when he comes up to my car before the race and what to say to me." (Continued)
Despite the win, McMurray is still mired in 22nd place in the point standings, and understands that the decision to release him from the team at the season is at least partially driven by performance. Still, McMurray's opportunity to celebrate in Victory Lane with his current team was a bit bittersweet.
"I'll miss not getting to drive one of these cars," McMurray said. "Jack's team can just put incredible equipment on the track and this year hasn't been as good as what it's been in the past, whether it's been the engine shop, or the engineering department or the chassis shop, he has an incredible race team
It's been a long time since I've won. I just can't believe it's here again."
JAMIE MCMURRAY "My years here have been good. The performance certainly hasn't been what I think either one of us expected coming and almost making the Chase my first few years in Cup. Coming over here, I thought that it would be kind of a sure bet and it just hasn't been as good as what it needed to be."
After an early-race crash in April saddled McMurray with a 42nd-place finish, he and crew chief Donnie Wingo switched strategies.
"We rode around in the back with [Jimmie Johnson] and [Tony Stewart] and some of those other guys until just a little bit after Lap 100," McMurray said. "Then when I initially tried to move up through the field, they were three-wide, 10 rows deep, and it seemed like a row would advance and then the next lap that row would move to the back and nobody was able to make any ground.
"I even made the comment to the spotter and Donnie. I said, 'It's just gonna be luck of whoever can kind of get in the right row and make the moves.' Fortunately for me, I shot around a couple of rows and our car was really fast and I was able to get to the front."
It also helped that teammate Matt Kenseth, driving one of the cars with the next generation Ford engine, was there to act as a drafting partner.
"Matt is my teammate, but he's also a really good friend of mine," McMurray said. "I had a lot of faith that he would not hang me out until at least one or two [laps] to go, and he helped out a lot when they were two or three wide, to get behind me. He had numerous times that he could have shot me, whether on the inside or the outside, and he elected to stay with me and it made it a lot easier."
McMurray shot into the lead on Lap 181, then held on for two restarts to score his first Cup win in 87 starts, dating back to another restrictor-plate race -- a thrilling side-by-side last-lap duel with Kyle Busch at Daytona.
"It's been a long time since I've won," McMurray said. "I just can't believe it's here again."
A win at Talladega is definitely one heck of a sendoff -- a going-away present of the highest order -- but McMurray wanted to make it clear that saying goodbye for now didn't necessarily mean so long.
"Certainly, I'll miss being a part of this organization, but you never know," McMurray said. "You might end up driving for Jack one day again, so I'm not gonna make him mad in this little meeting we're having here."