Fate turns on McMurray

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What a difference a year makes.

A victory in the 2010 Brickyard 400 was quite an accomplishment in itself for Jamie McMurray. Except that he also won the Daytona 500, not to mention the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte.

Yet, in spite of victories in NASCAR's two most prestigious races, McMurray, 35, failed to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Though the Joplin, Mo., native has won six Sprint Cup races in his career, he has never finished a season in the top 10 of the point standings.

This year, to date, has been a disaster. McMurray's numbers aren't just disappointing. They are ruinous. He is 29th in the point standings, with only two top-10 finishes and none in the top five. He still drives the No. 1 Chevy of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The difference, for McMurray and crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion, is that McMurray's Impala hasn't been fast nearly as often.

"There is certainly nothing wrong with our cars," said McMurray. "We just haven't hit on it. New tires have thrown us off at a lot of tracks ... and man, we've just really struggled."

McMurray has a knack for Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though. His first Brickyard 400, in 2003, yielded a third-place finish. He's finished seventh or better four times.

A year ago, McMurray led only 16 of the 160 laps, most notably the final 11, to outduel another perennial Indy contender, Kevin Harvick.

"I'm running the last 10 laps of this race and just praying every lap there isn't going to be a caution (period) and that my car was going to have to grip it needed," said McMurray afterward. "It's remarkable to be put in this position, and honestly, I'm in shock right now. ... Man, when it's your day, it's your day."

"I'm a big believer in fate, and this was just meant to be."

Fate has largely turned on him during the current season. Perhaps McMurray is due for a rally in the second half of the season.


Monte Dutton covers motorsports for The Gaston (N.C.) Gazette. E-mail Monte at nascarthisweek@yahoo.com.


   By Monte Dutton