2009-11-05 / Sports

McMurray Wins Messy Talladega Race

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

Jamie McMurray Jamie McMurray TALLADEGA, Ala. – Jamie McMurray played the game right. He had a fast race car, stayed out of trouble, and won Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, which ended under caution.

“I just can’t believe this,” said McMurray. “We tried to stay up front, and there near the end, I knew we had a good chance.

“I didn’t know how much fuel I had, but after the yellow flag came out, I pushed the clutch in and just coasted. It’s great to be back.”

With five laps to go, Ryan Newman let up for slower traffic and was bumped from the rear by Marcos Ambrose. Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet went airborne, flipped, rolled, and somersaulted several times, before coming to rest on the infield grass.

Speedway emergency crews had to cut the top of his car off before they could get him out.

“I complained about this type racing in the spring, and now, ironically, I’m the one that gets airborne,” said Newman. “I was upside down and the roll bars were stuck on the top of my helmet, so yes, it was scary.

“It was a boring race, I wish NASCAR would do something. That (wreck) is not something anyone wants to see. If it is, ‘go home, you don’t belong here.’ That’s a product of this racing, and what NASCAR has put us in with this box-type of restrictorplates, no bump-drafting, no passing, and no going below the yellow lines.”

“Drivers used to be able to respect each other and race each other, like Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Bobby Allison, and all those guys that really were able to race.”

“I guess they don’t think much of us anymore. It’s not even a good race for the fans, and that’s who we’re trying to please.”

Elliott Sadler and Kevin Harvick were also involved.

The race was red flagged with three laps remaining. Several cars ran out of fuel after NASCAR allowed teams to pit under yellow.

It was to be a green/white/checkered finish, with McMurray, and Kasey Kahne leading the field.

Before the cars had completed the first lap, Brad Keselowski, winner of the spring race at Talladega got into the back of Kurt Busch. For the next 30 seconds it wasn’t pretty. Cars were spinning, sliding, and bumping into each other. In all, 18 cars received some type of damage, as the race ended under yellow.

“I think we all know this is the type thing that is going to happen when we come to Talladega,” said Jeff Gordon. “Everybody is pretty patient throughout the day, but it always gets crazy at the end.”

Mark Martin was another driver whose car was totaled.

“I’m not going to say anything. It was just a mess,” he said.

Jimmie Johnson, who stayed near the tail end of the pack for most of the day, avoided the two wrecks, came into the pits for fuel late in the race, and finished 8th. He now has a 181 points lead over Martin, and 195 over Gordon.

Top-10 finishers: 1. Jamie Mc- Murray, 2. Kasey Kahne, 3. Joey Logano, 4. Greg Biffle, 5. Jeff Burton, 6. Michael Waltrip, 7. Elliott Sadler, 8. Jimmie Johnson, 9. Brad Keselowski, 10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Top-12 Chase contenders with three races remaining: 1. Johnson-6245, 2. Martin-6064, 3. J. Gordon-6050, 4. Montoya-6003, 5. Stewart-5969, 6. Kurt Busch- 5936, 7. Biffle-5908, 8. Newman- 5846, 9. Kahne-5834, 10. Edwards- 5814, 11. Hamlin-5800, 12. Vickers 5703

Top-10 Camping World Truck leaders: 1. Hornaday-3487, 2. Crafton-3285. 3. Skinner-3160, 4. Bodine-2985, 5. Braun-2934, 6. Scott-2904, 7. Peters-2903, 8. Sauter-286, 9. Starr-2849, 10. Crawford-2794

Note: The Nationwide teams had an off weekend.

NASCAR perspective: Richard Petty’s racing kingdom is coming unraveled. His teams are having problems with Chrysler, Petty’s choice of cars for the past 60 years. After being sold to Fiat of Italy, Chrysler is preparing to phase out many of its current models, including Dodges.

Elliott Sadler, driver of RPM’s No. 19 car raced a Ford for the first time in Cup competition this past weekend at Talladega. He will return to his familiar Dodge for the final three races of 2009.

“Richard Petty Motorsports is working with Ford Racing as we get ready to make the fulltime switch at Daytona in 2010,” said Sadler. “Since this was the final restrictor plate race of the season, we made the decision to run a Ford to get some work done in advance. This was our first time to practice or race a Ford under actual race conditions. It should help us to make a strong showing at Daytona and put us in the best position to start next season.”

The last time a Petty-owned team (Petty Enterprises) fielded a Ford in the Cup Series was April 14, 1985, at Darlington. Morgan Shepherd drove it to an 18thplace finish.

But it isn’t just the car maker that is producing king-sized headaches for the seven-time NASCAR champion. After many missed payments from Chrysler, there has been a shortage of money to pay the bills, including drivers A. J. Allmendinger and Reed Sorenson. Both of these drivers admitted they went several races this year without receiving a paycheck.

On top of his on-track problems, Allmendinger was picked up on a DUI charge last week. Petty fined him $10,000, and in addition, NASCAR placed him on probation until the end of the year.

But behind every dark cloud there is a ray of sunshine. Petty’s Garage will focus on the manufacturing of high-performance cars, including “museum-quality” restoration of vintage race cars, custom cars, and high-performance street vehicles. Their first complete car project is a 2009 Dodge Challenger, to be sold at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in January. Proceeds will benefit the various Petty Foundation charities.

The Challenger was completely disassembled and painted the trademark Petty Blue. Reassembly included a 426 hemi engine with 585 hp, suspension upgrades, stronger brakes, and a new exhaust system.

Lance McGrew will remain as crew chief of the No. 88 Hendrick Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. The 41-year-old Mc- Grew assumed the role in May 2009 on an interim basis.

“I have total faith in Lance and what he’s capable of accomplishing with Dale Jr.,” said Rick Hendrick. “There was a lot of pressure with how he came into this deal, and the way he’s handled it has been extremely impressive. Lance is confident in himself and his decisions, and all the outside distractions aren’t going to faze him.”

Weekend racing: It’s off to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for all three of NASCAR’s major series.

Friday, November 6, Camping World Trucks Lone Star 350, race 23 of 25; starting time: 8:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: Speed Channel.

Saturday, November 7, Nationwide Series O’Reilly Challenge, race 33 of 35; starting time: Noon (EDT); TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, November 8, Sprint Cup Dickies 500, race 34 of 36; starting time: 2:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: ABC.

Racing trivia question: Wendell Scott, the early African- American driver won one major NASCAR race. Where did he win it?

Last week’s question: How many Cup championships did Cale Yarborough win? Answer. Three.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@ earthlink.net.

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