Jamie McMurray's 2009 season has not gone according to plan.
Jamie McMurray started 27th Sunday night at the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta. He had participated in the tire test in July, and had qualified 3rd and finish 15th in the Spring race at Atlanta. He struggled Sunday night to put it nicely.
As the laps went on in the race McMurray radioed to his crew chief Donnie Wingo that the car was "loose in and out of the turns while being snug in the middle". This prevent McMurray to drive his car as aggressive as he wanted to.
After the first caution came out on lap 37 the #26 team went to work to tighten off the racecar. Wingo called for several adjustments including a half rubber out of the right rear, an air pressure change, as well as lowering the track bar. McMurray improved a little bit and was able to drive up to the 24th position before the caution came out again. Donnie Wingo called for the same adjustments again.
The race restart and McMurray was 23rd on lap 65 and was 23rd for the next several runs. Crew Chief Donnie Wingo continued to make adjustments via air pressure and track bar to help the “loose in and tight off” condition that Jamie was experiencing.
The pit crew had a great pitstop on lap 106 putting McMurray to restart in the 18th position. But the handling issues he was experiencing were too great for him to advance through the field and hold his track position and he went backwards.
During a pitstop on lap 133 Wingo decided to take drastic measure and unhook the rear bar which was meant to tighten the car to hopefully improve the handling. This change made McMurray restart 30th but did help his car going thru the corners. McMurray said the change had helped his car but he was still was too loose going thru the corners.
With more pitstops during the race came more changes with air pressures, track bar, and rubbers being pulled out. But nothing helped McMurray's loose in and tight off condition.
Jamie ran around 30th until a late caution came out on lap 10. McMurray came in for a splash of fuel and 4 tires came out 28th and hung on to his track position to finish 28th.
McMurray voiced his frustrations.
"Handling just really got the best of us tonight,” said McMurray after the race. “We fought it all weekend, but our Crown Royal Ford was just loose in and out of the turns all night long, and then tight in the center. Atlanta’s such a fast track that it’s tough enough to pass and challenge for positions when your car’s handling just right, but when you have issues with handling, it can make for a very long race. I just needed more grip in order to try and race my way through the field, and our pit crew tried everything to get us handling right, but it was just a frustrating finish tonight.”
For McMurray a nightmare 2009 continues. After coming into the 2009 season with such a high. 2009 no doubt has been a bitter disappointment.