Still in contention for a Chase berth, Jamie McMurray and Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing have dodged a potential bullet by managing to salvage its primary car for today’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
During yesterday’s final practice session, McMurray suffered a left-rear tire failure on his No. 1 McDonalds-backed Chevrolet and went into the wall, causing considerable damage. With an 11th-place starting position on the line at a place where track position is critical, the EGR camp asked for and received extra time from NASCAR to make repairs after the garage closed at NHMS yesterday.
“I honestly thought we had a top two or three car after about 10 or 15 laps,” McMurray said on Saturday according to the NASCAR Wire Service. “Our car was really fast. I feel good about it – if they can get this car fixed.”
The EGR team was able to do just that, as McMurray’s repaired machine made its way through pre-race inspection earlier this morning.
McMurray sits 17th in the standings and sits 24 points out of 10th-place, which is currently occupied by Tony Stewart. He has yet to win this season but has logged back-to-back Top-10 runs at Kentucky (second) and Daytona (seventh) and is looking to make a late charge into NASCAR’s post-season.
Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.
Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.
“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.
“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”
The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.
“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.
“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.