Jamie McMurray has taken the No.26 IRWIN Marathon with Weld-Tec Ford to victory lane in the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega (Alabama) Superspeedway, the 33rd race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The result was McMurray third-career victory and second with the Roush Fenway Racing organisation. His other two wins came in 2003 (second ever Cup Series start) at Charlotte and at 2007’s Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Both of his wins with Roush have been in the IRWIN Marathon with Weld-Tec livery.
For Ford, it ends a 30 race winless streak, after McMurray’s team-mate started the year with back-to-back wins at Daytona and Fontana (California).
Prior to today’s race, NASCAR officials issued a warning to drivers not to ‘bump-draft’ in the corners. This made the opening 150 laps of the scheduled 188 journey a procession with all cars in a single long line.
Apart from jostling for position prior to green-flag pit stops, the race started to come alive over the final 30 laps.
McMurray took a cautious approach over the first 100 laps of the race, even dropping straight to the back off the start. He then moved towards the front and dominated the front position over the final 30 laps.
With everyone waiting for the ‘Big One’ to occur it finally came with five laps remaining when Ryan Newman was sent tumbling at the end of the backstretch after a multi-car collision that included Australia’s Marcos Ambrose. Ambrose sustained heavy damage and was classified 34th at the finish. Newman had to be cut from his US Army Chevrolet, but was soon released from the In-Field Care Centre.
The race came down to a Green-White-Chequered finish, but with so many teams running close on fuel, cars either came to pit road prior to the start or ran out of fuel on the track.
Being at the front is not usually the favoured position at Talladega for a re-start so close to the end, but McMurray kept his IRWIN Ford in front before another multi-car wreck behind him brought out the race-ending caution flag.
“What an exciting day,” said McMurray.
“This is my second Cup race I’ve won with Roush in our IRWIN Marathon car. It’s been a long time since I’ve won and I want to assure every fan out there that I appreciate this as much as anybody.
“The bump drafting, it happens at the end anyway. When you’re the guy that’s actually doing the bump drafting, you don’t want to get off because the cars have so much grip and the track has so much grip. I couldn’t believe the single-file that we had. When I was leading that deal at the end I knew that there would be an inside row that would come up and challenge us, so it was very exciting for me there.”
The next stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule is the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway next weekend.