Jamie McMurray came into the season expecting to have the best season of his career and perhaps continue his tenure at Roush Fenway racing. But he instead is experiencing the exact opposite with 2009 being the worst season of his career.
With 7 races to go McMurray is 23rd in points with 0 top fives, 3 top tens and just 1 lap led.
Still McMurray is optimistic that he can end his 4 season career at Roush on a strong note and understanding that he needs to run well.
“You need to run well,” McMurray said. “I’m obviously looking for a job and to run well now is important but our cars as a group, Roush Fenway, haven’t been as good the last three or four months. It makes it really hard when you have to go run well or you need to run well [and] you just can’t do it.
“I know for a fact that they have gotten our cars better over the last three weeks. And I expect that since we had hit on something that is working, they will be able to fine-tune that and hopefully get our cars to where they were at the end of last year.”
It was this time in 2008 that McMurray scored his first top 5 of the season, a 5th at Lowes motor speedway the same track he won at in only his 2nd start and led the most laps that night.
After that he led 35 laps at Martisnvillie, was 5th when his axle broke, then finished 7th at Atlanta, 3rd at Texas after leading late and having to pit, 3rd at Phoenix, and 3rd at the season finale at Homestead.
Although McMurray maintains that he is looking for a job sources have confirmed that he has signed a "basic agreement with Earnhardt Ganassi and will reunited with his former bosses Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates that race ran 6 races for in the fall of 2002, and fulltime from 2003 to 2005.
“There’s been really strange things that happen in our sport,” McMurray said when asked about whether he knew what he was doing next year. “I never would have thought that Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. would have left DEI and went to Hendrick. I feel really good about next season. I feel very confident. But until it is done and it’s announced, you just never know what can happen. I am going to continue to work as hard as I can toward all this working out and when we announce it, it will be a little bit of a relief.”
Ganassi is where McMurray had his best shot at winning a championship. In 3 seasons there he nearly finished top ten in points all 3 season finishing 13th, 11th and 12th and narrowly missing both chases in 2004 and 2006.
At Roush where McMurray expected much greater success he has finished 25th, 17th, and 16th in points.
McMurray knows that his driving must not change in his final races with Roush.
“You can’t drive any different,” said McMurray, who has two career Cup wins, one at Ganassi and one at Roush. “You cannot do anything different. My Roush experience, when I came over here, I thought this was going to be – I was three years in a row of almost being in the [top 10] and I thought this was going to put me there. And I just haven’t performed as well here as I did at Ganassi. That has been frustrating and disappointing for me. You can’t try any harder. I’ve had three years or four years of trying to make this get better and better and better.
“Last year, we ended just awesome and I thought, ‘Man, if we can start next year that way, it’s going to be our year to make it all happen.’ And we just had the weirdest things break on our car or just really bad luck. I believe you make your own luck, but sometimes you just can’t help it.”
With 7 races left until the season ends, McMurray hopes he can find the speed he had this time around in 2008 and perhaps help his 2 teammates in the chase.
“The things that we change, they can benefit from,” McMurray said. “It seems odd. But what they’re doing is trying to make it if we change something, they can relate to it. If we come completely different, if we change something, they aren’t getting anything out of it.
“We weren’t the same as everyone at Loudon and we had a good car there, and they tried some of the stuff we did and then they realized when we got home that we all had a lot of different stuff.”
McMurray believes that by season's end that Roush will be back to their original status and contending for wins a regular basis.