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McMurray, Earnhardt spoil Chase party with top-5 runs

By admin | September 19, 2010

By Richard Allen


The word spoiler has been used often this year in NASCAR. For the most part, the word has described a piece attached to the rear of a Sprint Cup car. However, now that the Chase for the Championship has begun, the word may be better used to describe those drivers outside the top-12 in the standings who score good finishes and thus take points away from the title contenders.

In Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it was most notably Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who served as spoilers by finishing 3rd and 4th respectively.

McMurray had been solid all weekend and was even predicted by some to win the event after he posted a 4th place qualifying run and then led one of the practice sessions held at the track. And for some time on Sunday it looked as if he might just end up in victory lane for the third time in 2010.

McMurray briefly put his Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing machine in the lead late in the going and appeared to be in good position as a number of the Chase contenders were concerned about making it to the end on fuel. Had those title seekers played it safe and headed down pit road it could have handed the win to McMurray. However, that did not happen.

Still, his 3rd place result was an attention getter on a day in which all of the attention was supposed to go to the top-12 in the standings.

Junior did not have an entirely strong weekend like that of McMurray. Even though he did post good times in practice, his 32nd place qualifying effort left something to be desired.

Once the race started, however, the #88 Hendrick Motorsports car began slicing his way through the field with seeming ease. Junior roared up to the top-15 in relatively short order and looked to have the strength to move even higher. Unfortunately, the popular driver found himself boxed in on pit road when Regan Smith pitted in the stall ahead of his just as Junior was about to exit his own stall. That bit of misfortune dropped the #88 well back in the running order.

On other occasions this year such an event has derailed this HMS team and sent them to a mediocre result. This time, however, Junior and his crew fought back and ended the day on a positive note.

Junior’s 4th place was his best Sprint Cup effort since the July race in Daytona.

There always seems to be a spoiler, or spoilers, to emerge in one way or another during each Chase for the Sprint Cup. On Sunday, it was Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who stole at least some of the thunder from their more publicized competitors.

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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.

Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to “McMurray, Earnhardt spoil Chase party with top-5 runs”

  1. Justin Says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 7:57 am

    It infuriates me everytime I see that stupid “fastest pit team challenge”, or what ever the hell they call it, and you see Jr in the top 4. I am a huge Jr fan, but C’MON MAN!!! The 88 tam SUCKS at pit stops. If the fans would stop voting for that team, maybe people would pay attention to the fact that the 88 team cant pit the car for $hit. Jr must have passed 70-80 cars yesterday, but lost close to 40 positions in the pits. When you start 32nd, you cant afford to lose so many spots when you pit. To drive from 32 up to 15, only to fall back to 42 on the first pit stop(car fell off jack) was devastating. Then to drive all the way back to 5th, only to lose 13 spots on a pit stop (Regan Smith) is enough to make you go nuts. I would have liked to see Jr get out front, to see what kind of lap times he could have had, because he was in the top 5 on lap times most of the day. Without the first pit road mishap, I think he might have been able to lead a little bit

  2. Mark Says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    2 top 5″s all year!!! good job mr FRAUD of nascar Dale jr!!! go to ARCA where you belong!!!!

  3. Ron Says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    One thing we learned today. Mark rode the short bus to school. What an idiot!!

  4. Mark Says:
    September 21st, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    maybe you can join him RON!!!