Today at Sonoma Raceway, Jamie McMurray threatened to become the 11th different winner in this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign before finishing fourth after starting on pole.
McMurray was pressuring eventual winner Carl Edwards for the lead when a caution came out with 20 laps to go after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun following contact with Brian Vickers.
But that meant McMurray still had an opportunity to pass Edwards on the subsequent restart with 16 laps left. Unfortunately for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, he made a mistake after the green came back out.
“I’m happy that I’m mad that I finished fourth, if that makes any sense,” he said afterwards. “I thought I had a chance to win but when the last caution came out I was working Carl there a little bit, and I was just waiting on him to make a mistake. I felt like I was better than he was.
“And when we went back green, after the caution, I just used up too much car in [Turns] 1 and 2 and spun the tires really bad and paid the penalty for that the remainder of the run.”
Eventually, Jeff Gordon got by McMurray for second position with nine laps to go and Dale Earnhardt Jr. peeled third away from him a short time later.
At that point, McMurray appeared to know that his ebbing chances of victory had gone away entirely.
“I could see how fast [Earnhardt] was catching me and I came on the radio and I’m like, ‘Is he on a different strategy than we are?’ And [the team] was like, ‘Yeah,'” McMurray said.
“So, when he caught me, I didn’t really put up a fight because I knew that he was going to get by. I was more worried about the No. 27 [Paul Menard]. He was another ten seconds back, if he was going to be able to catch me at the end.”
Menard could not do so, leaving McMurray with his final result. The fourth-place finish is his second Top-5 and third Top-10 in the last five races, and he hasn’t finished worse than 13th in that stretch.
McMurray and the No. 1 CGR crew are beginning to pick it up as they seek to get into proper Chase contention.