2010-02-18 / Sports

McMurray Wins Marathon Daytona 500


Jamie McMurray Jamie McMurray DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – It was six hours and 10 minutes, from the time the Daytona 500 was started until Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt drove from 10th to second over the final two laps, but was unable to chase down McMurray, who won his fourth career Sprint Cup race.

McMurray was the odd-manout at Roush Racing at the end of 2009 when that organization had to drop a team to comply with NASCAR’s four-car ownership rule.

He didn’t know if he would have a ride for 2010 until his former car owner, Chip Ganassi, called and put him in a car for the second time.

McMurray responded just like he did the first time he drove for Ganassi. He won his first race with the team, just like he did with Ganassi when he won his first race, the fall event at Charlotte.

There were three green-whitecheckered finishes.

On the first attempt, Greg Biffle brought the field to the green on the inside, but a wreck behind the leaders brought out a caution.

Kevin Harvick brought the field to the green for the second attempt at the finish, but before the leaders reached Turn-3, another caution came out.

On the final attempt, Carl Edwards slowed Kevin Harvick, allowing Jamie McMurray to take the lead, with Greg Biffle second. Earnhardt came up through the middle of the track but was unable to catch McMurray.

“I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the win, but we had a decent car today,” said Earnhardt. “We were pretty good, we were just working on some handling issues.”

Greg Biffle had to settle for third.

“I did everything I could,” said Biffle. “They gave me a good car and hopefully, we can do as good at California next week.”

There were two red-flag periods that lasted two hours and 20 minutes while speedway crews patched a pothole, and three green-white-checkered finishes that pushed the race to 520 miles, the longest Daytona 500 on record.

In between, there were 46 lead changes and nine cautions for wrecks.

Unofficial finishers: 1. Mc- Murray, 2. Earnhardt, 3. Biffle, 4. Clint Bowyer, 5. David Reutimann, 6. Martin Truex Jr., 7. Kevin Harvick, 8. Matt Kenseth, 9. Carl Edwards, 10. Juan Montoya, 11. Jeff Burton, 12. Mark Martin, 13. Paul Menard, 14. Kyle Busch, 15. Brian Vickers, 16. David Ragan, 17. Denny Hamlin, 18. Michael Waltrip, 19. Scott Speed, 20. Joey Logano, 21. Bobby Labonte, 22. Tony Stewart, 23. Kurt Busch, 24. Elliott Sadler, 25. Boris Said, 26. Jeff Gordon, 27. Bill Elliott, 28. Robby Gordon, 29. Travis Kvapil, 30. Kasey Kahne, 31. Robert Richardson Jr., 32. A. J. Allmendinger, 33. Michael McDowell, 34. Ryan Newman, 35. Jimmie Johnson, 36. Brad Keselowski, 37. Sam Hornish, 38. John Andretti, 39. Regan Smith, 40. Max Papis, 41. Marcos Ambrose, 42. Mike Bliss, 43. Joe Nemechek

Stewart wins Nationwide race

Tony Stewart won the seasonopening Nationwide Series race ahead of Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Justin Allgaier, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, James Buescher, Kasey Kahne, and Steve Wallace

Truck race goes to Timothy Peters

Todd Bodine led four times for 32 laps, but when he drifted up the track on the last lap, Timothy Peters was able to get under him for the lead to win the Camping World Truck race at Daytona. 2. Bodine, 3. Dennis Setzer, 4. Jason White, 5. Matt Crafton, 6. Nelson Piquet, 7. Stacy Compton, 8. Johnny Benson, 9. Donnie Neunberger, 10. J. J. Yeley

NASCAR has changed the green-white-checkered rule to allow a maximum of three restart attempts prior to the white flag under the green-white-checkered flag finish. If the leader has taken the white flag and the caution flag is displayed, the field is frozen and the race will not be restarted. Previously, there was only one restart attempt.

“We want to do all we can to finish our races under green flag conditions – the fans want to see that and so do the competitors,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “We felt that putting a cap at three attempts to finish the race under green is the way to go. It gives the fans what they want and it also gives the teams a better opportunity to prepare for their end of race strategy.”

With this new rule package in place there is sure to be more sheet metal damage as it will be a “shootout,” each time the green flag is dropped. Every time there is a restart, chances are more cars will be damaged.

“It will be good for the fans, but costly for the owners,” said Richard Childress.

This past week the Cup cars were beating and banging like never before. At least 78 Cup cars have been demolished or damaged in racing incidents from February 5 through the Daytona 500.

Jack Roush said it cost around $375,000 to build and test one new race car. You figure what the added costs will be for these extra restarts.

While some drivers joked about the exposure Danica Patrick has been receiving from the media, Kyle Busch said more attention needs to be focused on lesser-known drivers.

“The only thing I can say is TV is doing a horrible job because they have been covering her too much,” said Busch. “Focusing attention on her means they are taking time away from the less-funded teams, the underprivileged people that want to have funding just so they can race the rest of the year.”

“Danica is only going to be here for 12 races or whatever. It would help the rest of those teams that want to try to make a full run at it, get the coverage they need and the exposure they deserve to try to race the full season.”

What do you think? Is ESPN going overboard with coverage on her at the expense of the other teams? E-mail us your comments, because we plan to pres- ent them to the ESPN broadcast crew prior to the March 7 Atlanta race. If we use them in our next column, we’ll send you a photo of Danica.

Weekend racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at the 2- mile California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Matt Kenseth, a Ford driver, is the defending Cup champion.

It could be anyone’s race, because drivers can run four wide. While the drivers run wide open on the track, race fans can purchase a $35 food ticket and eat as much as they want, all day long.

The Trucks do not race again until March 6.

TV schedule: Sat., Feb. 20, Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300, race 2 of 35; Starting time: 3:30 pm (ET); TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, Feb. 21, Sprint Cup Auto Club 500, race 2 of 36; Starting time: 1 pm (ET); TV: Fox.

Correction: Last week I reported that Martin Truex was the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500. That was a big boo-boo. What was I thinking? Matt Kenseth was the real winner.

Racing trivia question: Which Cup team is Elliott Sadler driving for this season?

Last week’s question: How many Daytona 500s did Dale Earnhardt Sr. win? Only one, in 1998.

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

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