By admin | May 12, 2010
By Richard Allen
To begin, this piece is not meant to pick on David Ragan. Instead, it is meant to point out that Jamie McMurray has performed considerably better than his former Roush Fenway Racing teammate, especially since being let go by his former employers.
Ultimately, racing is a business and many decisions are made based on whatâ€™s best for business rather than whatâ€™s best for the competition level. This was almost certainly the case when RFR decided to release McMurray at the end of the 2009 season and keep Ragan.
RFR was made to reduce its number of teams from five to four by NASCAR mandate. With that being known well ahead of the 2009 deadline, drivers Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle were locked into contracts which ran beyond that date. So, it would be either Ragan or McMurray who would be shown the door at the end of the season.
Since that time, McMurray has seemed like a new driver. After the announcement that he would leave RFR he won in Talladega for that organization.
For 2010 he landed in a familiar place, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. He had first entered Sprint Cup in a car owned by Chip Ganassi. His current deal only runs through 2010 and sponsor Bass Pro Shops took quite a bit of convincing to agree to let him drive the #1 Chevrolet for even one season.
Allowing McMurray to drive has paid off immensely so far, and that pay off began immediately. The team won the season opening Daytona 500. Aside from that success, the they have scored two 2nd place results in the last three races. McMurray has also started from the pole twice this season.
However, there have been some poor finishes mixed and there was also one embarrassing mishap in which McMurray and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya crashed with each other.
Even with the negative, McMurrayâ€™s record in 2010 glistens compared to that of Ragan. A 6th place finish in Talladega is the only time the #6 car has placed higher than 14th. That is not very impressive for the car considered to be the flagship of the organization.
As was said earlier, however, there was more to be considered than just driving results when deciding which driver to hold on to. Ragan was driving a car with UPS sponsorship secured while McMurrayâ€™s sponsor on the #26 ride was being moved to Kensethâ€™s #17 to replace DeWalt Tools.
And more, McMurray admits that he never felt as though he fit in at RFR, so had he stayed there it is possible his results would be no better than those of Ragan.
But still, one has to wonder if when the doors are closed in the offices of Roush Fenway Racing if the higher-ups there are not kicking themselves for keeping David Ragan and letting Jamie McMurray go.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and the Knoxville Journal.
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