McMurray Back on Track

J.McMurray

After finishing outside the top 20 in points the past two seasons, McMurray and his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team are starting to get back on track. (Photo: Getty Images)

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After finishing outside the top 20 in points the past two seasons, Jamie McMurray and the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team are starting to get back on track.

Although he did not make the Chase, McMurray is currently ranked 14th in the standings - equaling his final tally in 2010, a year that saw him visit Victory Lane three times in his first season driving a Chevrolet for EGR.  McMurray can't climb any higher in the standings as he is the top non-Chase driver, but he can continue to add to his statistics that have already exceeded a number of categories from the previous two seasons.

Since the 10-race playoffs started three races ago at Chicagoland Speedway, McMurray has outscored four Chase drivers in points.  He's been the top non-title contender in the last two races, which includes a fifth-place run in New Hampshire.

"Our cars have been really good this year," McMurray said on MRN's Motorsports Monday.  "We haven’t really executed the races as well as we could have, but the speed in our cars has been really good.  Loudon (N.H.) was a good race for us.  I thought we had a little better car than where we finished (11th) in Dover.  (On) the last little run, the balance got a little tight.  We've had a few good weeks."

After just missing his eighth top-10 finish of the season at Dover, McMurray will head to Kansas Speedway where he placed seventh in the spring.  Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 will mark the third race since the track was resurfaced, but first with a new Goodyear multi-zone tread tire - a concept that made its debut last month at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  McMurray, who finished 11th there, will get the opportunity - along with the rest of the Cup teams - to test the new tire on Thursday at Kansas.

"We did the tire test at Atlanta and also a test at Phoenix on that multi-compound tire," McMurray said.  "It has more grip than what we've run the past few races there.  I think there will be some guys that figure out ways to make that work better than others.  It seems like there’s an advantage to maybe running less camber because the tire is softer on the outside than it is on the inside.

"The way it is now, and the compound is the same all the way across, you just add as much camber as you can without blowing a tire out and that’s the most grip.  I think it will be a little different with the multi-compounds.  I’m anxious to get to Kansas because that is such a different surface.  It’s really hard to get a hold of when the track is green."

McMurray will get the chance to test again on Monday, Oct. 14, at Charlotte Motor Speedway as NASCAR will hold a session - with each manufacturer represented - to try some things for 2014.

"NASCAR has the teams in mind and is trying to make it a little simpler to get the front of the car down instead of having to have a different spring for each track," McMurray said.

Next season will also see McMurray have a new teammate in rookie Kyle Larson, who is currently ninth in the Nationwide standings.  Larson will test the No. 51 Cup Series car at Charlotte tonight and then at Martinsville Speedway next week.

"I was going to go out to Charlotte, to just hang out with him and see if he had any questions.  But I’m leaving for Kansas," McMurray said.  "My Dad and I are going to Johnny Morris' (from Bass Pro Shops).  He's got a farm about an hour-and-a-half from the racetrack that’s got 10 or 12 really good fishing ponds and lakes on it.  A couple guys on the team are going to do some deer hunting.  We're going to have an outdoor week."

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