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Jamie McMurray takes Talladega for first Sprint Cup win in three years
“It was really bizarre. Typically handling is a non-issue here,” Kenseth said. “We finally got it fixed that last run, but we only had 20 laps to get back up there. I really needed to be up there like we were early and feeling I was controlling the race more.”
McMurray, who isn’t part of the Chase, won for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and took a phone call in victory lane from car owner Chip Ganassi, still in California celebrating Scott Dixon’s championship in the IndyCar series the previous night.
Earnhardt, a huge fan favorite at Talladega, had hoped to make his move going down the back straightaway on the final lap.
He never got the chance.
“I guess if we’re in that situation next time,” Earnhardt said with a shrug, “we’ll try to go a lap sooner.”
McMurray led only one lap until he got to the front with 15 to go. He held that spot the rest of the way, showing again his knack for restrictor-plate racing. He has won twice each at Daytona and Talladega, accounting for more than half of his seven career victories.
Three drivers — Johnson, Earnhardt and Kenseth — dominated the race until McMurray claimed the top spot after the final round of pit stops began with 25 laps to go. The typical Talladega pack — 25 cars running within 3 seconds of each other — formed at the front and began plotting ways to make a move without causing the massive wreck that always seems to occur at the 2.66-mile trioval.
There was a bit of two- and three-wide jockeying before the leaders lined up single file, settling in for what turned out to be a relatively comfortable ride to the finish for McMurray.
Even if the caution had not come out, Earnhardt wasn’t sure if he had enough momentum to pass the leader.
“I didn’t have the greatest run,” he said. “I wish I was in front.”
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
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