By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
CONCORD, N.C. – The 2018 season hasn’t been what any of the Chevrolet teams, Chip Ganassi Racing included, has expected, but on the 1.5 mile tracks the team seems to have hit on something.
With a sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, McMurray scored his second top-10 finish of the season, with his first coming at Texas – a sister track to Charlotte.
“We had a really good car and we’ve come a long way, especially the Chevy’s from the beginning of the year 1.5-miles,” said McMurray. “I think in less than a month we will contend to win. That is a good feeling.”
After not scoring a finish higher than 16th in the weeks since his third-place finish at Texas, McMurray and his No. 1 team needed a pick-me-up and that’s exactly what they were able to do throughout NASCAR’s longest night.
McMurray started the night in seventh, which was his best qualifying effort of the season, but had to pit for a loose wheel early in the race, dropping him to 32nd by the end of the first stage. After getting the wave around to get back on the lead lap, the same issue befell the team about 20 laps into stage two, forcing him to have to pit again.
“I don’t know what was wrong with the tires we had two sets that they felt loose like it shook so bad that I pitted that one time under green and then we had a real short run and I had to pit again,” McMurray added about the tire issue. “I was just positive they were loose, but they said there was nothing wrong, but it was shaking so bad I mean I was scared so I went ahead and pitted.”
Despite the setback, the team clawed their way back up the leaderboard, finishing the second stage in 11th and setting his sights on an even better finish in the third stage. Though he climbed up to third by lap 300, it was not an easy road for McMurray as he had a close call with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. early in the third stage, causing slight damage to his car.
McMurray held steady in the top-five for much of the final stage, only falling to sixth as the laps wound down.
The team will now look to parlay Sunday’s finish into better finishes down the road as they pack up and head to Pocono Raceway next week.