By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray ended up one position shy of becoming a Playoff spoiler. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran shined in the Bank of America ROVAL 400, battling with the Playoff Grid drivers throughout the race.
On the final restart, McMurray was the only non-Playoff driver inside the top-five. He battled primarily with Ryan Blaney and Clint Bowyer as the two race leaders, Martin Truex, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson drove away.
However, contact from Johnson sent the two leaders spinning out of the last turn on the last lap. McMurray’s No. 1 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 charged Blaney, but couldn’t close the gap, taking the checkered in second.
McMurray’s luck extended beyond the final restart. On the lap 104 restart, he found himself on the inside, deep in the top-10, heading into turn one of the 2.28-Mile Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Brad Keselowski, the race leader, failed to turn, slamming into the tire pack. 14 more cars, primarily those in the outside line, piled into the wreck.
“Our DC Solar Chevy was really good all day long,” McMurray said. “We got a little bit off in the last pit sequence. We got a little bit behind but had a really good car and then we had the one restart when Brad (Keselowski) was on the front row and I happened to be on the inside and that was the lane to be in, so you could avoid the wreck. And then on the last restart, I got a good restart being on the outside.”
McMurray’s one piece of bad luck throughout the entire race, ultimately cost him the chance at victory. His left-side mirror broke off with 25 laps to go. Unable to clear himself on the left side, he let Blaney by, inadvertently handing the Team Penske driver the victory.
“A little bit disappointed only because my left-side mirror fell off in the chicane with like 25-laps to go and I ended up having to let the No. 12 (Ryan Blaney) go because I couldn’t see if he was inside of me,” McMurray admitted. “I don’t think he was. I’m like, if that wasn’t the case, you would be the guy in Victory Lane now versus finishing second, but overall it was a pretty fun day.”
The second-place finish was just the second top-five for McMurray this season. It was also his best finish since finishing runner-up at the Spring Talladega race last year. McMurray passed Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to move into 20th in the Championship Points Standings.
McMurray appreciated everything that Speedway Motorsports Inc., President and CEO Marcus Smith did to turn Charlotte Motor Speedway from a 1.5-Mile Tri-Oval to a 2.28-Mile Road Course-Oval hybrid.
“I thought Marcus (Smith) and the team here did a really good job getting the track ready. It’s crazy that we ran a road course inside of this facility, but really great place.”