Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway went from good, bad to terrible for Jamie McMurray.
Starting sixth, McMurray drove up to the second spot before losing a couple spots before the first caution on Lap 70. The ensuing restart saw McMurray get hit by Jimmie Johnson after a three-wide move by Ryan Blaney.
And within a few laps, the significant tire rub led to a cut tire into Turn 3 on Lap 100.
After the hard hit, McMurray re-thought the decision to stay out while the tire was smoking.
“If the smoke hadn’t gotten lighter, I would’ve pitted,’ McMurray said. “The team said to run a couple more laps. The smoke got a little lighter and I thought we were going to be OK. If we pit, we lose three laps. Now… you wish you had.”
With a hard driver-side impact into the SAFER barrier, McMurray was in good spirits.
“I contemplated running higher on the track so you can lessen the blow,” he said. “When it did blow, I knew I was going to hit driver-side first, which is a horrific way to wreck a car. But it didn’t hurt as much as I thought.”
Despite the disappointing early end, McMurray is gaining confidence with Chip Ganassi Racing, who won last week with point leader Kyle Larson.
“It’s a long year, you have days like today,” he concluded. “It’s frustrating, but I’m just glad we’re running well again.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 2, 2017
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