Mcmurray Motors To Runner-Up Finish

Jamie McMurray continued his solid early season Saturday night in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway when he started from the pole and drove to a second-place finish behind Denny Hamlin.

The Daytona 500 winner credited crew chief Kevin Manion with giving him a car capable of winning both the pole and the race.

"We had a good car, but Bono called a really good race," McMurray said. "Qualifying first, getting to have that pit stall, it made a huge difference. We beat three or four cars out of the pits each time. Most of the times we would come out in the lead and could lead 15 or 20 laps. We had a really good car, good pit stops all night, Bono called a good race. It kind of went all our way."

As the laps wound down McMurray's car remained fast but he still didn't have enough to run down Hamlin for the win.

"At the end I didn't have anything for the 11," he said. "Couldn't get our car tight enough. Kind of creeped up on it all night long, could never get the car tight enough to where I could really hustle it. It was always sort of on edge.

"All in all, it was a great night for us, great weekend for us."

McMurray's Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet carried a special tribute to former NASCAR president Bill France Jr., one of five inductees this month in the new NASCAR Hall of Fame, which opens its doors on Tuesday. A memorial sticker in memory of France was on the No. 1 car Saturday night.

"I still have a picture from like 1996 or 1997," McMurray said. "I went to the banquet for the Winston Racing Series for all the local tracks. Bill was there. He's a fairly intimidating person to walk up to.

"I had either my mom or my dad [with me], and I said, 'Look, I'm going to walk up behind him and you take my picture.' So I've got a photo of me standing about two feet behind him smiling and he's not paying any attention. And then I stepped back. I thought that was cool to have."

After starting the year with a win in the biggest race of the season, McMurray has had a few downs as well as ups but feels like things are heading in the right direction at EGR.

"We've had fast cars all year long," McMurray said to the media after Saturday night's race. "As you were asking the question, I thought of Vegas. We had a top five car at Vegas. That's where I got into the wall and ended up crashing us both. There have been a few races we haven't been able to capitalize on how good a car we had. I've been just really impressed with the caliber of cars they've been able to give us.

"Overall, I mean, every weekend at some point in the weekend we have a really fast car. That's all you can ask for. You just have to get to the finish line."

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