2009 Ride: No. 26 Roush Fenway Ford
2009 Primary Sponsors: Crown Royal (22 races), Irwin Tools (11 races), Valvoline, Sears Auto Centers, Jeremiah Weed Southern Style Sweat Tea Vodka
2009 Owner: Jack Roush
2009 Crew Chief: Donnie Wingo
Stats: 36 starts, 1 win, 1 top five, 5 top 10s, 0 poles, 22nd in points
Best Finish: 1st (Talladega – fall)
Average Finish: 21.4.
High Point: Obviously, the fall Talladega race where Jamie McMurray posted his third career Cup victory. He led 36 laps, including the last 10, which included a green-white-checkered finish and a final-lap yellow which ended the race. You win (and even finish) at Talladega by surviving, and the veteran survived by putting himself in position to win by running up front.
Low Point: Also obvious – when McMurray learned that he was the odd man out at Roush Fenway as the owner had to downsize from five teams to four because of NASCAR’s edict.
Summary: In some ways, McMurray’s 2009 season was the most consistent in his four-year Roush career. Running at the finish in 34 of 36 races, he fell out once due to a crash and once due to an engine failure to complete 96% of the overall laps run. The win at Talladega was his only top-five finish, but he had five top 10s and was also second in two special races, the Bud Shootout and the Sprint Showdown.
But when all was said and done, McMurray ended his tenure the poster boy for racing mediocrity – posting an average starting position of 22nd and an average finish of 21st. Yet despite missing the Chase in all four years with Roush Fenway, McMurray expresses no regrets about leaving Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates after the 2005 season.
“You just always think it’s going to be better if you do something different, and it isn’t always,” he commented. “We just didn’t have the success that we needed.”
2010 Outlook: You might say McMurray’s landing on his feet, as he’ll be going back to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for a second go round. He spent the first three full seasons and part of a fourth with the same organization (2002-05) before its merger with DEI, with three top-15 finishes in the points. Now, he’ll return to replace Martin Truex Jr. in the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet as Truex goes to Michael Waltrip Racing… and he couldn’t be happier to earn a second chance.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” he said. “I think Juan Pablo [Montoya] and Martin have shown this season that their equipment is as good as anyone in the garage. I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of their cars and once again competing for a NASCAR championship. It’ll also be fun to work with some of the people that I worked with when I was there a few years ago.”
Ganassi also professes to be happy about the situation, saying, “To be able to sign a veteran driver with the talent and experience of Jamie was important to us. We know Jamie and understand what makes him tick as a driver. We had a lot of success with Jamie in the early part of his career, and we’re looking for more of the same.”
2006 Frontstretch Grade: D
2007 Grade: C
2008 Grade: C
2009 Grade: C