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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
Top finishers, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray had victory in their grasp but are left searching for more with only two races left until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Jamie McMurray describes his plan for the ice-bucket challenge, and Jeff Burton fills in for the Cup race in Michigan. All that, and more, on this episode of GarageCam.
See how they will lineup for Sunday's race (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Pos Car Driver Team 1 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 2 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 3 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford 4 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 5 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 6 15 Clint Bowyer PEAK Radiator Guarantee Toyota 7 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 8 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet 9 27 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 10 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 11 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 12 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 13 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 14 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 15 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 16 55 Brian Vickers Aaron's/Samsung Partner of the Year Toyota 17 47 AJ Allmendinger Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet 18 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 19 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 20 16 Greg Biffle ScotchBlue Ford 21 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 22 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 23 43 Aric Almirola Eckrich Ford 24 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 25 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 26 51 Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet 27 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 28 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 29 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 30 38 David Gilliland Love's Travel Stops Ford 31 83 Ryan Truex # Burger King Toyota 32 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Ford 33 26 Cole Whitt # Iowa City Capital Partners Toyota 34 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet 35 7 Michael Annett # TMC/Allstate Chevrolet 36 36 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 37 23 Alex Bowman # Dr Pepper Toyota 38 40 Landon Cassill(i) Snap Fitness Chevrolet 39 34 David Ragan Dockside Ford 40 37 Mike Bliss(i) Accell Construction, Inc. Chevrolet 41 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Royal Teak Toyota 42 33 Travis Kvapil Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 43 32 Joey Gase(i) Zimmer Ford MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
'You can't really do anything different just because we're down to two races'
McMurray is the 11th different Coors Light Pole winner of the season
Strong contenders McMurray , Ambrose couldn't close the deal on the road course
Panel of experts debate that and more as the roundtable returns RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. OK folks, the field of 16 for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been determined. Looking at this year's roster, is there a favorite in the field? Alan Cavanna: I filled out my Chase Grid (like I hope you have, print a blank one out here) -- and started with my champion, Jeff Gordon . Huge year, fast speed, and the sense that the driver from the late '90s is back. Brad Norman: I'm not so sure there is a "favorite," but there's definitely a group of "favorites." That would be the Team Penske duo and the three heavyweights at Hendrick Motorsports – sorry, Kasey Kahne . Throw in Kevin Harvick , if he gets the pit-road problems cleaned up with a new over-the-wall crew. I can't imagine a scenario in which the final four drivers at Homestead don't come from that group. Kenny Bruce: For the first time in, well, a long time, I don't think you can assume that Jimmie Johnson is a clear-cut favorite. The No. 48 team started the season slower than many expected, caught fire at mid-season but has been "average" (for them) recently. Cavanna: OK fellas, I'm the only one going out on a limb with a solid pick. C'mon now. Norman: True, Alan. If forced to pick one, I'd go with top-seeded Brad Keselowski . He's back to form, he's got a great strategist in Paul Wolfe calling the shots and the Team Penske cars have been phenomenal on those intermediate-type ovals. Of which there are five in the postseason. Bruce: I'll lean toward Alan on the Gordon pick, but I've got to give props to 2012 champ Keselowski as well. The No. 2 team has been pretty stout of late, and that momentum's got to be worth something. Cavanna: I understand though. The four drivers in the Championship Round aren't necessarily the four "best." They're the three winners, and the most consistent. A great driver will be left out of the championship race at Homestead. Norman: One thing that's most interesting about Keselowski is that Joey Logano is one of his biggest challengers. They share a garage, share info. After Logano won at Bristol and Keselowski finished second, Bad Brad was asked about how those two will continue to share info during the Chase -- and it was a topic the 2012 champion was reluctant to discuss. Bruce: I think it's interesting that Gordon and Keselowski probably feel as if they have something to prove. Keselowski for not making the Chase last year and Gordon for not winning a title in the Chase-era. And I'm not sure how much you can compare 2013 to this season, but Mr. Kenseth reeled off back-to-back wins to open the Chase a year ago, I believe. Cavanna: You beat me to it, Kenny. Ten weeks from now we'll all look like fools when Matt Kenseth is hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy. Bruce: My biggest concern with the entire JGR group is their win total this year. Three teams, two combined wins. That probably won't cut it in the Chase. Norman: For Gordon, I imagine what he's feeling is just like what a veteran may feel at any job. You see these upstarts come in and win races, you don't perform as well and perhaps you wonder if you can still hang. That's a wonderful motivator. Mr. Gordon (hey, respect your elders) can most certainly still hang. 2. Speaking of JGR, Kenseth is one of three drivers in the Chase without a win this year and two drivers, Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger , are making their first appearance in the "playoff." How do we expect these guys on the bottom half of the board to fare? Norman: Certainly, you expect more from Kenseth than you do Almirola or Allmendinger because of his pedigree, his team, his equipment ... all that stuff. I'm not sure Kenseth can get to Homestead still in contention for the championship, but there's no reason he shouldn't be in the Eliminator Round. Of all the guys on the bottom of the board, I think he's clearly got the best chance. Cavanna: I'm not totally worried about the winless drivers just yet. The consistency we've seen from drivers like Kenseth and Ryan Newman should carry them forward for a round or two, even without wins. Bruce: You're spot on Brad. Given Kenseth's consistency, I expect him to advance beyond the first round, probably the second. Gets tougher after that, though. Newman has been consistent all year, Greg Biffle more so of late. I think Aric and AJ test the waters and see what it's like. But advancing would be a surprise. A nice one, but a surprise just the same. Cavanna: I hate to say I have little faith in the 47 team (Allmendinger) moving on. But, Aric Almirola is riding into the Chase with two straight top-10 finishes. If he gets three more, that will put him in the next round. Norman: I do think we're going to see a "surprise" driver advance, though. I'd pick Allmendinger, if forced to give a name. He's gotten better at intermediates. More than that, though, I can foresee a scenario in which a guy more favored to advance wrecks at Chicago, and then has a couple of gambles fail as he tries to get back in it over the next two weeks. Cavanna: Brad, I like your thinking for a roundtable rookie. I think the sport and fans are in for a big surprise. It's easy to think of the better drivers and assume they all advance. But one glance at any NCAA Tournament tells you that never happens. There's always an upset or three. Bruce: The thing about it is if a driver advances beyond the first round (Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover), Talladega looms as the cutoff race for the Contender Round and as we know, anything can happen there. How cool would it be, Alan, to see the 43 battling for a title? OK, battling for a spot in the next round? A lot of history there. Cavanna: It's a long shot, but the 43 will certainly be a chic pick for advancing to the top-12. Norman: I am the Kyle Larson of the roundtable, Alan. Cavanna: You're a dry wiper? 3. Now that we've determined who will win, who will advance and who can go ahead and start taking the yellow ID markings off their cars ... which teams on the outside are most likely to pick up a win during the final 10 races? Norman: It was rare to see that happen with frequency when there were 12 (or 13) drivers in the postseason. Now with 16? I think it'll be even more rare. The biggest contender to me, the roundtable rookie, is ... Kyle Larson. Maybe at Charlotte. Heck, he could win any of them. Bruce: I don't think it was that rare ... but the folks that won were often guys you thought would have been in the Chase to begin with most of the time. Tony Stewart , Jamie McMurray , Biffle, Denny Hamlin , Gordon. But you make a good point about the numbers decreasing the likelihood. Cavanna: Prior to the start of the season I picked Austin Dillon to win a race, with Talladega in mind. I'll stick with that. Clint Bowyer showed some promise at Richmond Saturday night, but I worry that may be the team's best performance of the season. Norman: To be fair, it happened three times last year. And if you look at who won those races, two of those guys are in the Chase field this year – Keselowski and Hamlin. And McMurray was the other, winning at Talladega which is a wild card. So if anyone outside the Chase field wins, I think it could portend a big 2015 season. Larson, Bowyer, Dillon ... what about Stewart? Cavanna: I think a lot of people are overlooking what a win by a non-Chaser does to the championship run. Every time that bell rings, it's one less automatic spot for a guy going after a championship. Bruce: Bowyer is tough at New Hampshire, so maybe it's better late than never for him and the MWR team, Alan. But I wouldn't be surprised if one of the rookies, Dillon or Larson, gets a win now that there's no Chase pressure. Norman: Alan, you make a good point about the championship run. Can you imagine in any round, if somehow a non-Chaser wins two in a row? Bruce: Your comments reminded me of something, guys. If a non-Chase driver wins a race in the Chase, does he get one of those yellow "winner" stickers to go above his window? For that matter, does anyone? Cavanna: Everyone likes rewards, Kenny. I hope the stickers remain. Norman: Everyone's a winner here, Kenny. Cavanna: Even Brad Norman's Chase beard. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation