Former race engineer for No. 31 team starts immediately RELATED: See other changes for 2015 Jamie McMurray will have a new crew chief for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Matt McCall will take the reins of the No. 1 Chevrolet team from Keith Rodden for Chip Ganassi Racing effective immediately. McCall joins the team from Richard Childress Racing , where he served as the race engineer for the No. 31 team of Ryan Newman , which finished as the runner-up in the Sprint Cup championship. McCall has experience competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as a driver. He also served as a crew chief for one race in 2013 for Jeff Burton at Indianapolis. The Denver, North Carolina, native graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a major in mechanical engineering. "I am very excited to join the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team," McCall said in a team release. "This organization is one that everyone in the garage has taken notice of in 2014 and I am just looking forward to the opportunity to make them even better. We have a group of very talented people building and driving the race cars here and I can't wait to get started." There was no immediate word on Rodden's future with Chip Ganassi Racing. In 2014, McMurray finished with the most top-fives (seven) since 2010 and the most top-10s (13) since 2004. In addition to winning the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race, McMurray and Rodden really seemed to find their stride in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. While McMurray did not qualify for the 10-race playoff, he racked up four top-five finishes in that 10-race stretch. "I am really looking forward to 2015 and beginning to work with Matt," McMurray said in a team release. "As a team, I think we will carry a lot of momentum into Daytona and the hiring of Matt will continue to move the program forward." McMurray , who has competed in the sport's premier series full time for 12 years, has seven wins -- including the 2010 Daytona 500 . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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Six of eight Chase drivers in top 15 RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Sprint Cup Series Practice 3 " ( RESULTS ) Jamie McMurray kept Kevin Harvick from a three-practice sweep, running the fastest lap in the third and final session ahead of Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 . McMurray's No. 1 Chevrolet turned a lap of 137.106 mph in 26.257 seconds. Harvick, who was fastest in the first two sessions at Phoenix International Raceway , fell just .008 seconds off of the leader's pace, putting him in the second position on the leaderboard. Matt Kenseth was .017 seconds off the leader's pace in third, running a lap of 137.007 mph. Harvick, currently last in the Chase standings, is in need of a win to advance to the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He'll have fierce competition from other drivers trying to make the cut this week, however, with six Chase drivers in the top 15 in the last practice. Joey Logano , currently leading the standings, was fourth-fastest, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who was eliminated from the Chase following the Talladega race. Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr ., Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson and pole-sitter Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 10. After placing in the top 10 in both earlier sessions, Kyle Larson fell to 13th-fastest in the final session. The rest of the Chase field finished as follows: Brad Keselowski , 12th; Ryan Newman , 19th; Carl Edwards , 21st. The Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, with coverage on ESPN. Sprint Cup Series Practice 2 " ( RESULTS ) Kevin Harvick topped Sprint Cup Series practice for the second time this weekend despite having a slightly slower speed. Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet took a fastest lap of 138.403 mph, with his best lap on his sixth of 31 turns around the track. His best lap in the opening session was 141.521 mph. Harvick is currently eighth in the Chase standings, and needs a win to guarantee advancement into next week's Championship Round. Brad Keselowski, one point ahead of Harvick in the Chase standings, was second-fastest with a lap at 138.387 mph. Keselowski is five points behind Jeff Gordon in fourth, the final transfer spot to Homestead. Kurt Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Tony Stewart completed the top-five fastest; Gordon finished sixth-fastest. Kyle Larson was the fastest rookie in the session, with a lap of 137.295 mph. He finished second-fastest in the opening practice. Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin didn't bring the same speed to practice, finishing in the final position of the top 20. Casey Mears ran the most laps in the session with 46, an effort that put him in ninth on the leaderboard. The other Chase contenders finished as follows: Matt Kenseth , 10th; Joey Logano , 12th; Denny Hamlin , 20th; Ryan Newman , 25th; Carl Edwards , 29th. The final practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET, with coverage one FOX Sports 2. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Former No. 5 lead engineer back after one year on Jamie McMurray's pit box
Between on-track success and off-track prosperity, Sunoco Rookie of the Year in a great place RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today In putting together one of the most dramatic and impressive Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year seasons in recent memory, 22-year old Kyle Larson recognizes there are plenty of options for defining moments and highlight reels. For some, it will be his last lap tangle with Ryan Newman in the next to last race of the season, which set the championship contender field. Needing one more position on track, Newman pulled his Chevy alongside Larson's and sent the rookie into the wall derailing an 18th top-10 run, while the veteran Newman crossed the finish line in precisely the place he needed to advance to the Chase Championship Round. "I didn't know 100 percent if he needed that spot that I was in,'' Larson said between practices at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend. "I got loose off (Turn) 2 and they said he had a run and I thought well, he might try something crazy, so I left him a lane and I don't know if I should have done that and he was able to get to me and hit me. "Anybody would have been upset, but I got over it pretty quick because I knew what was at stake. That was a very important spot for him to get." What Larson himself considers his defining moment may surprise. It's not the blazing runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway in his native California in March -- only five races into the schedule. And it's not even his runner-up showings in New Hampshire and Kansas during the Chase. "The best feeling I had this year was probably when I finished fourth at Watkins Glen, (New York)," Larson said, taking a moment to mentally rewind and really think through the question. "I didn't grow up racing on road courses and I struggled really bad the whole practice and qualifying that weekend. So then to end up fourth, which was way, way better than I thought I was going to be -- I was super pumped up about that." The fact that Larson had so many good performances in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet to choose from is not lost on the young talent. Neither is the fact that few picked him to win the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year title before the season started. The Elk Grove, California native didn't come from a racing pedigree, nor had he won a NASCAR development series title. Larson earned his seat showing natural talent and the can't-miss potential that have made him one of NASCAR's biggest young stars in only one full season in the Cup ranks. Like his racing heroes Gordon and Tony Stewart , he came up through the open-wheel ranks of sprint cars and midgets. Team owner Chip Ganassi signed the NASCAR Drive for Diversity grad and Larson realized this was his big opportunity to make it in stock cars. He delivered with two pole positions, three runner-up finishes among his eight top-five showings and his 17 top-10s was more than eight of the 16 Chase drivers. "Really to start the year everyone thought I was going to fail,'' Larson said. "At least three-quarters of the people sitting in the media center probably did. Then I think they realized after the first handful of races that our team was capable of running well and the bar got raised and raised more throughout the year. "My expectations going into the start of the season were top-15 every week would be great and that quickly turned into wanting top-10s every week and lately top-fives and wins are the goal." And he's not the only one who expects great things of the No. 42 team. And expects them soon. The opinion shifting began early and earnestly. The bar has only risen. "I feel we could win every week,'' Larson said with a big grin. "I think (teammate) Jamie ( McMurray ) feels the same way, all our guys feel that way and Chip definitely feels that way, so his expectations are a lot higher. "That's good though. It's nice coming to the race track every week and knowing your car is going to be fast. In years past, this team maybe hasn't felt like that every week, but now they're in a good spot and I'm definitely glad I got in here when I did." Larson continued, "The best thing to happen to me is being with a really good team that's excited to have a new driver. "I think we're capable enough with more experience and good tracks at the beginning of the year that I'd like to get a win early in the season and know you're going to be in the Chase. … and then you don't have to stress out every other race." Before he suits back up, however, Larson's amazing year will get even better. He and longtime girlfriend Katelyn Sweet are expecting their first child in late December, a son they will name Owen Miyata -- the middle name a nod to Larson's Japanese roots. Miyata is Larson's mom Janet's maiden name and giving it to Owen ensures it will carry on in the family. "As much as I've had a blast racing, I can't wait for the offseason for all the exciting things coming, the baby, the new house -- we just finally stayed in it one night this week,'' Larson said, clearly enjoying the anticipation. Moving in is exciting. Just ask @Katelyn_Sweet pic.twitter.com/DUnX6SaeON — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) November 19, 2014 "There's been a ton that's happened and it's all been great stuff. I've had great years results-wise, but the baby, the house, first year in Cup probably never been a year as exciting as this.'' MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
CGR driver will lead field to green in Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota MORE: Full Martinsville race lineup MARTINSVILLE, Va.— When the green flag waves to start the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN), it won't be a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver who leads the field to the start/finish line. Touring the .526-mile short track in 18.954 seconds (99.905 mph) in his No. 1 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Jamie McMurray upstaged the championship contenders on Friday in winning the pole for the first race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase. In claiming his second Coors Light pole award of the season, his second at Martinsville and the 11th of his career, McMurray beat title contenders Joey Logano (99.605 mph) and Matt Kenseth (99.318 mph) for the top spot. Tony Stewart (99.297 mph) qualified fourth, followed by Chase driver Denny Hamlin (99.266 mph). Six of the eight eligible remaining Chase drivers qualified in the top 12. Brad Keselowski will start sixth, Ryan Newman ninth and Carl Edwards 11th. In McMurray's case, practice made perfect. His pole followed a productive recent test session at the historic short track. "We tested here a couple of weeks ago, and I thought we had one of the best tests that I've been a part of, really since I started racing," McMurray said. "Really well organized… We made the car better throughout the test and hit on a couple things that really had a lot of speed in it. "So I was pretty excited about getting here this weekend. Our cars have been so quick the past two or three months—really all year, but more so in the past few months. This is a great track for me, and we had a really good test. When things are going well, you get excited to come back to the track. It was really great that we were able to take that test and use that toward earning the pole today." Jeff Gordon, one of the pre-race favorites, narrowly missed advancing to the second round of knockout qualifying and will start 13th. The real casualty of Friday's time trials, however, was Kevin Harvick , who scraped the wall in the 30-minute first round and will start 33rd. "We just missed it today," said Harvick, whose career-average finish of 15.8 at Martinsville is worst among the eight remaining Chase drivers. "We were way too loose. We struggled in practice and just missed it in qualifying. "We'll just have to get it better (in Saturday's practice) and be ready to go on Sunday." Gordon, who missed advancing to the second round by .003 seconds, shrugged off his position on the grid. "I don't mind starting 13th," he said. "It's not a bad place to start. You just want that really good pit stall, and so we'll definitely suffer with a pit stall a little bit. "But we can definitely still win it from there. Our car is really good." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Jamie McMurray gets loose and hits Brad Keselowski, also causing Joey Logano to wreck bringing out the first caution at Talladega.
Jamie McMurray ’s son, Carter, joins GarageCam to make his pick to win on Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.
Driver of No. 1 leads race-high 148 laps but can't get back out front RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Jamie McMurray has won some of the biggest races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is a former Daytona 500 winner. He has won the Brickyard 400. He's won the Sprint All-Star Race. He's also won the fall race at Charlotte (twice), the summer race at Daytona and has a pair of wins at Talladega. He has not won the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway . Saturday night, he came close. "It's tough because I've gotten to win all the big races so far and this is the one race that's on my bucket list," McMurray said after leading 148 laps before finishing eighth. "If I could win one more race in my career, the night race at Bristol is it." McMurray , 38, was able to hold off the advances of Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Joey Logano (Team Penske) for much of the second half of the 500-lap event. He put four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon a lap down with less than 150 laps remaining. "Dude, that 1 is the leader?" Gordon asked crew chief Alan Gustafson over the radio. "... He's just flying on the bottom (of the track)." McMurray was still leading at Lap 432 when the caution appeared for debris. Because four teams stayed out under the yellow flag, McMurray , who pitted, restarted fifth. He was unable to work his way back to the front in the closing laps. "It really didn't have anything to do with the pit call as much as my car just got really tight the last 100 laps and I was really hanging on for 40 of those laps just staying ahead of Matt and Joey," McMurray said. "It seemed like I could get through lapped traffic a little bit better. But as the top rubbered in the last time I just couldn't rotate the middle like I could early in the race." McMurray jumped three spots in the points standings, to 16th, with the finish. A win would go a long way to securing a bid in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which will consist of 16 teams. "Getting to make the Chase, you just want to go run well every week," he said. "It's pretty awesome to lead all those laps tonight and have that good of a car." Much of the credit, he said, goes to crew chief Keith Rodden, the former engineer who took over the helm of the No. 1 team this season. Even if Rodden has a tendency to make wholesale changes the night before a race. "We talked last night in the motorhome lot and we changed everything on our car," McMurray said. "I laughed because I'm not real sure why we practice, because on Saturday night he tends to change a lot of stuff. He does an amazing job to come up with a really nice setup. "That was definitely the best car I've had all year long. It's just about putting the race together all at the right time. And we had the best car, I felt like for the first three quarters of the race." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule