Jamie McMurray currently sits 12th in points and has two top-10 finishes. Not necessarily numbers that are putting the world on fire, but a lot better than most had predicted for him and his team.
After winning the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, everyone thought that McMurray and company would be title contenders for sure in 2011. Especially since NASCAR changed the wild card rule to ensure a team like his, who won multiple races, could be in the Chase. Unfortunately, for McMurray things did not go as planned in 2011 or in 2012.
He ranked 27th in 2011 in the final standings and got it up to 21st last season. Many changes in organization happened and the fruits of those labor are coming now.
“When we made all the changes in 2011, we hired a lot of new people and changed the way we go about a lot of items at the shop. I said at Media Day at the beginning of 2012 that it wasn’t going to be immediate. And it’s taken some time. Certainly this car I think has helped us. I feel like we hit on a few things at the Charlotte test in December or January, and it’s helped our 1.5-mile program, which is where we really struggled last year. And fortunately our short tack program has been pretty good all year. When I look back at my season, though, we ran really good at Martinsville but at Bristol, we really had about a 15-place car and the way the pit strategy worked out, we got a Top 10 out of it. But I feel like we’ve run better at the 1.5-miles than we have at the short tracks and we really had a great car last week. I made a mistake on pit road and got us a penalty and we never could recover from it. We’ve had a couple of instances where maybe we should have pitted once, and didn’t; and then next time we shouldn’t have pitted, and we did.
“But fortunately when I look at that, we’ve at least been in position to contend. And maybe we haven’t made the best decisions, but performance-wise, our cars, I would say, are better than they were in 2010. Obviously we didn’t win the Daytona 500 this year, but for me, constantly at every single race track we have been competitive this year. And even in 2010, we didn’t have that,” McMurray told reporters Friday from the Kansas Speedway.
So far this season McMurray has avoid the mechanical failures that have set back teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.
“The No. 42 car (Montoya) has been on the receiving end of having the parts failures. The parts that they’ve broke are kind of one-off’s. I don’t think it’s a quality control issue. Unfortunately it’s just been really bad luck for them. So, yeah, I don’t think there is really anything that we’ve done wrong at our shop. It’s just unfortunate that both things happened to the No. 42 car early in the year,” said McMurray.
Even with the success so far through seven races, McMurray isn’t prepared to talk about 2014 and beyond.
“Oh, I don’t really have a comment on anything for next year. I’ focused on what we’re doing now. I’ve really tried hard not to talk about the length of my contract or when you resign one. I feel like the media takes a lot of that and runs with it and seems to use imagination to make more than what is fact. So I don’t have a comment about anything like that,” commented McMurray.
I’m sure a couple of wins and getting into the Chase will change his mind. We’ll find out how he and Montoya do at 1 PM EST in the STP 400, which can be seen on FOX.