McMurray Wins Rule-Restricted Talladega NASCAR Race

November 1, 2009 Updated: November 2, 2009

Jamie McMurray, driver of the #26 IRWIN Marathon Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on November 1, 2009 in Talladega, Alabama. (John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #26 IRWIN Marathon Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on November 1, 2009 in Talladega, Alabama. (John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jamie McMurray surged to the front in the final forty laps and avoided the two big wrecks in the final five laps to win the NASCAR Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega Ala., on November 1.

McMurray moved into the top ten on lap 149, took the lead on lap 154, and held it for all but a handful of the remaining laps.

When the dreaded-but-expected big crashes finally occurred on laps 183 and 189, McMurray was safely ahead of the danger. This was McMurray’s first win since 2007.

“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,” McMurray said after the race. “Thanks to all my fans that stuck with me. I just can’t believe it’s here again.”

Jamie McMurray in the #26 Irwin Marathon Ford, takes the checkered flag ahead of second place finisher Kasey Kahne in the #9 Budweiser Dodge to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jamie McMurray in the #26 Irwin Marathon Ford, takes the checkered flag ahead of second place finisher Kasey Kahne in the #9 Budweiser Dodge to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson Saved by the Yellow

Qualifying was rained out, so the grid lined up according to championship points, but Jimmie Johnson didn’t contest the lead. Johnson and several other Chase contenders dropped back to the last third of the field, intent on avoiding “The Big One,” if it occurred.

The plan nearly backfired, as Johnson waited too long to make his move, and couldn’t find a drafting partner. When the first wreck—a five-car crash that saw Ryan Newman flipping and flying through the air—Johnson was in 21st place. But drivers ahead of him began running out of fuel as the field paraded around under yellow.

“I was really, really concerned under the red flag for Newman’s crash, and it was like, ‘What do I do? How do I get to the front?’ and Chad [crew chief Chad Knaus] said, ‘Man these guys might run out of gas,’ Johnson said. “I didn’t want to believe too much in that … but they started to run out of gas, and there’s another car and then the 24, then the 5 hits pit road and I’m like, ‘Man, this isn’t Halloween. This is an early Christmas present.’”

The field was halfway through the Green/White/Checkered restart, when Brian Vickers nudged Brad Keslowski into Kurt Busch, setting off a thirteen-car pileup that claimed both Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, while moving Johnson up to sixth.

With his competition thus eliminated, Johnson increased his points lead to 184 over Martin and 192 over Gordon.

NASCAR Forbids Bump-Drafting in Turns 

Before the race NASCAR president Mike Helton told drivers there would be no bump-drafting through the corners. "We want to see sunshine between the cars," he said, warning that offenders would receive a pass-through penalty.

Bump-drafting is the process of running up against another car’s bumper and physically pushing it forward. Because of  aerodynamic efficiency, the rear car can run faster and shove the front car, while both cars run faster than a car running solo, again to due to aerodynamic efficiency.

The field spent most of the race single file, afraid to race for fear of being penalized, or being wrecked. The two late-race wrecks claimed 18 cars regardless of all precautions. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The field spent most of the race single file, afraid to race for fear of being penalized, or being wrecked. The two late-race wrecks claimed 18 cars regardless of all precautions. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Bump-drafting on the straights is accepted because skilled drivers can usually control it, but through corners it can be exceedingly dangerous and NASCAR wanted to avoid “The Big One,” the huge multi-car pileup that so often occurs on Superspeedways.

Because of the warning, and because of the fear of getting caught up in someone else’s accident, the entire field refrained from actually racing for much of the race. For most of the first 180 laps, cars ran single file around the track, with most of the Chase contenders in their own separate pack well behind the first 30 cars.

Juan Pablo Montoya said before the race, he didn’t like the ruling. Ryan Newman criticized the rule after the race.

The next race in the NASCAR Chase for the Cup is the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, November 8, 2009. Please visit the NASCAR.com Web site for ticket and travel information.

Sprint Cup Series Standings

 

Amp Energy 500 Results

 

Driver

Points

Gap

 

Driver

Make

1

Jimmie Johnson

6,248

1

Jamie McMurray

Ford

2

Mark Martin

6,064

-184

2

Kasey Kahne

Dodge

3

Jeff Gordon

6,056

-192

3

Joey Logano

Toyota

4

Juan Montoya

6,009

-239

4

Greg Biffle

Ford

5

Tony Stewart

5,969

-279

5

Jeff Burton

Chevrolet

6

Kurt Busch

5,936

-312

6

Jimmie Johnson

Chevrolet

7

Greg Biffle

5,908

-340

7

Michael Waltrip

Toyota

8

Ryan Newman

5,846

-402

8

Brad Keselowski

Chevrolet

9

Kasey Kahne

5,834

-414

9

Elliott Sadler

Ford

10

Carl Edwards

5,811

-437

10

Bobby Labonte

Chevrolet

11

Denny Hamlin

5,800

-448

 

 

 

12

Brian Vickers

5,697

-551