Mcmurray Wins By A Nose At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Maybe NASCAR should reconsider dropping the current car design.

Or at the very least, just continue using it at Daytona.

In the final restrictor plate race using the current car, Jamie McMurray got a nose past Kyle Busch to win the Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway by a margin of .005 seconds.

Bouncing back from a penalty that dropped him to 35th-place on Lap 30, McMurray powered his way to the front and had a side-by-side battle with Busch following the final restart with six laps remaining.

As the two raced to the checkered flag, the driver of the No. 26 Irwin Tools Ford Fusion got a late push from Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards to squeak by Busch, this morning’s winner of the rain-delayed NASCAR Busch Series race.

"Carl helped me win the race," McMurray said. "He shoved me in and probably could have made it three wide but he pushed me to the win. So huge thanks to Carl Edwards."

Tonight’s difference between first and second place finishers tied with Dale Earnhardt’s triumph over Ernie Irvan at Talladega in 1993 for second closest in NEXTEL Cup Series competition since electronic timing started being used in 1993.

This is McMurray’s second career NEXTEL Cup victory but first since October 2003 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, a span of 166 races.

After the race, the younger Busch blamed the lack of help by his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears – for his runner-up result.

"I guess I'm on the outside looking in now," Busch said. "I'm probably not going to be invited to the team meetings next week. I think bliss is over at Hendrick Motorsports for Kyle Busch. We're getting ready for 2008."

Next season, Busch will be replaced by Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the four-car organization.

Kurt Busch, Edwards and Gordon rounded out the top five finishers.

Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Johnson completed the top 10.

Towards the bottom of the results page were several pre-race favorites, including two-time defending race winner Tony Stewart and last week’s race winner Denny Hamlin, both of whom were eliminated in the same accident.

Hamlin took over the lead of the 160-lap race on Lap 3 and looked to have a strong No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet. However, he was bumped by teammate Stewart coming off Turn 4 on Lap 13, ending his bid for victory and creating a multi-car wreck that collected Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Reed Sorenson.

"It’s tough to say, I definitely had my foot in the throttle. My car had a little bit of a wiggle there, but I think Tony was a little bit closer to me than what he expected or he was closer than he was the lap before." Hamlin said. "I think maybe if he was trying to get underneath me that he just got hung right there in my bumper and got into us. I was still okay and had it saved, but I think that somebody was right there on him probably and he got into us again.

"It really doesn’t matter either who it was. Whether it’s (a teammate) or somebody else, but I hope he doesn’t try to blame it on me."

Not surprisingly, Stewart had a different view of the incident.

"All of a sudden he stops on the exit of (Turn) 4 in front of 42 cars and I guess he expects all of us to drive around him," said the driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet. "It’s tore up two really good race cars. He tried to crash us on Friday in practice and didn’t get it done so he finished it off today."

"He’s a young guy and he wants to be successful, but I don’t know if he knows the definition of ‘team’ right now."

After extensive repairs, the four drivers returned to the track.

The incident created one of eight caution periods on the evening for a total of 30 laps run under the yellow flag.

Tonight’s Pepsi 400 was the last race at a restrictor plate track for the current car design. Beginning at Talladega Superspeedway in October, the Car of Tomorrow will be in use.

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series returns action next Sunday, July 15, with the running of the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

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