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Winner Jamie McMurray! And what does he have lined up for 2010?

  Jamie McMurray, yes! Now if only he'd put a few more W's on the Jack Roush scoreboard (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern
   Jamie McMurray, one of this sport's really nice guys, has had a rough go of it this season. Of course just about everyone not named Jimmie Johnson can say the same.
   But McMurray right now, with now only three races left in the season, is driving his heart out because he needs to land a new ride for 2010.
   Or at least find a sponsor, to help him land a new ride.
   With car owner Jack Roush needing to cut his five-team operation to four teams next year, because of NASCAR's team limit rules, and with sponsorship issues plaguing this sport, McMurray is scrambling to find something or make something happen.
   So Sunday's Talladega 500 victory couldn't come at a better time.
   For Roush as well.
   It's been eight months since Roush's last tour win, in California, with Matt Kenseth. And McMurray's last tour win was in the summer of 2007 at Daytona.
   McMurray, in what was a very strange race, wound up leading the most laps, 32 of the extended 191. And he became a real player for the win in the final 100 miles, after crew chief Donnie Wingo wrangled the right pit strategy to get McMurray out front – in something of a race where not many men really seemed to want to lead.
   And McMurray was ahead of the day's two big crashes: on lap 185, when Ryan Newman flipped and NASCAR brought out a 12-minute red flag while safety crews extracted Newman from his mangled car, and the last lap mess when 13 cars crashed and spun going to the checkered flag. When a yellow comes out, drivers are supposed to stop racing immediately, and scoring is done through electronic lines buried in the track. So sometimes it's difficult to sort out, at a yellow, who is ahead of whom. And then sometimes drivers simply keep racing, particularly at the end of the race (like at Loudon, N.H. a few weeks ago) because they're not sure just what is coming down.
   "I saw the guys wreck behind me, and I didn't know if you had to take the white….I wasn't real sure what the rules were," McMurray conceded. "And Kasey Kahne (running second down the stretch to the flag) went to the outside because he saw the same issue. But I just moved up and kind of tried to block him. 
    "As soon as I crossed the start-finish line I shut the engine off and pushed the clutch in and coasted around as far as I could."
   That's because McMurray, like most drivers at the end, had been trying to stretch his fuel.
   In fact Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were among the men who ran out….and the two thus all but gave this year's Sprint Cup championship to teammate Jimmie Johnson, who took advantage of everyone's misfortunes to turn a 30th place run into a  stunning sixth place finish.
   For McMurray the win was thus bittersweet, unless he can wrangle a sponsor and ride out of it, in these next few weeks.
   "It's been a long time since I’ve won, and I want to assure every fan out there that I appreciate this as much as anybody," McMurray said emotionally. "Thanks to all my fans who have stuck with me."
   For next year McMurray says he has nothing lined up.
   "Being able to win is not going to hurt my chances at getting another ride…" he said.
   However McMurray almost seemed depressed about it all: "There aren't a lot of rides available right now."
    McMurray has been penciled in to return to car owner Chip Ganassi, but…..
    "Everybody knows what rides there are out there," McMurray says. "Certainly if a sponsor were to call me, that would make it a lot easier. 
    "With the teams that are shutting down there are not a lot of options out there.
    "I just hope we can get it signed and then announce it whenever they want to…so that will make it a little bit easier to sleep at night."
    The pending split with Roush made celebration a bit uneasy.
     "My first year or so, Jack was a little bit mean to me…would be the easy way to put that," McMurray said with a wry grin, sitting next to his boss. "His motivating skills -- he just wasn't pushing the right button. 
    "He's told me numerous times that everyone is motivated differently. And Jack has become a really good friend of mine in the last year. And he's learned to push the right button.
    "I'll miss not getting to drive one of these cars. Jack's team can just put incredible equipment on the track.
    "This year hasn't been as good as in the past. But, whether it's been the engine shop, or the engineering department or the chassis
shop, he has an incredible race team. 
    "My years here have been good. The performance certainly hasn't been what I think either one of us expected coming and almost making the chase my first few years. Coming over here I thought it would be a sure bet. And it just hasn't been as good as what it needed to be. 
    "Certainly I'll miss being a part of this organization. But you never know: You might end up driving for Jack one day again."
   So what strategy to pick for this track this Sunday? Stroke around in the back like Jimmie Johnson, and hope to avoid the big ones, or charge to the front and hope to be ahead of the mess. McMurray and Wingo took the second option.
    "I talked to Donnie about just riding around," McMurray said. "We'd wrecked on like lap seven here in the spring race – after I like 'I didn't come here to ride around in the back.  I want to get up there and race with those guys,' …and then we wrecked on lap seven.
    "That makes you think that probably wasn't the best plan.
     "So this time we rode around in the back with Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart and some of those other guys until just a little bit after lap 100. And then when I tried to move up through the field, they were three-wide, 10 rows deep. I said 'It's just going to be luck, whoever can get in the right row and make the moves.'
    "Fortunately I shot around a couple of rows, and our car was really fast, and I was able to get to the front.
    "And then – luckily – Matt Kenseth was right behind me. Matt is my teammate, but he's also a really good friend of mine, and I had faith he would not hang me out until at least one or two to go.
    "He had numerous times he could have shot me, and he elected to stay with me, and it made it a lot easier."


Jamie 2010

Jamie back with Chip would be good for JPM Juan has never mentioned his teammate all season until today on the radio when he asked where the 1 was when he needed a push. I think Jamie Mac and Juan will be a better fit. I could see them playing with go karts together but don't ever expect Juan to have a bass rod or shotgun in his hands anytime soon. Maybe we could see them team up in a Grand Am car too, something that was never gonna happen with MTjr

I wonder if Donnie Wingo is

I wonder if Donnie Wingo is heading back to Ganassi too? Seem like a good winning package deal also with Tony Glover.

If Bass Pro has issues sponsoring Jamie....

....they should all be erased now with that Talladega win.

I hope Jack retires the 26 number

It was the number Johnny Benson had and another sure bet bit the dust.

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