UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
Racing

NASCAR'S Jamie McMurray hopes his turnaround has begun

Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

After three tough years, Jamie McMurray takes a 94-race winless streak into Daytona.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- When Jamie McMurray took a break from testing at Indianapolis and walked over with a smile, it seemed fitting.

The 37-year-old driver knows this could be the track where he finally turns things around.

After winning just once in 105 races, finishing in the top five only three times and winning just two poles in the last 2 1/2 seasons, he figures it's about time something goes right.

"Our year has been really good, we've just not been able to finish," McMurray said after testing Monday on Indy's 2.5-mile oval. "Speed-wise we've been good all year."

Three years ago, McMurray reached Victory Lane three times, earned $7.6 million, took four poles, finished in the top-five nine times and the top 10 12 times . All were career highs.

But that was only part of McMurray's incredible 2010 story. He joined Dale Earnhardt in 1996 and Jimmie Johnson in 2006 as the only Cup drivers to pull off the double of winning the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year, and it gave team owner Chip Ganassi a previously unprecedented triple crown with wins at Daytona, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard in the same year.

ANDERSON: Midseason team grades

Since then, McMurray has seemed jinxed.

Whether it was the blown tire at Michigan, the punctured radiator at Dover, the broken radiator at Charlotte or getting caught up in a crash at Daytona, something has always gone awry.

The result: McMurray heads to Daytona this weekend hoping to end a 94-race winless skid that dates to a 2010 win in Charlotte.

There are signs the slump is fading.

Two weeks ago at Sonoma, McMurray earned his first pole in more than two years. Last weekend, he finally caught a break late in the race at Kentucky, sneaking past Johnson after Johnson spun, and then pulling away from Clint Bowyer to hold on to second place. It was only his third top-five finish in 2 1/2 seasons and his best since that Oct. 16, 2010, win in Charlotte.

Now comes Daytona, where he has seven top-10 finishes in his last 14 starts, including the warm-up races to the 500. After going to New Hampshire next weekend, where McMurray has traditionally struggled, he'll take a weeklong beach vacation with his wife and children before heading to Indy, one of his favorite tracks in the series.

Here, McMurray five top-seven finishes in 10 career starts and his average finish at Indy (13.0) ranks second on his personal chart behind only Bristol (12.0). Plus, after testing Monday, McMurray sounded confident that he could make things work on the oval, even if the July 28 race are likely to be much warmer than they were this week in Indianapolis.

"Obviously it would be better if it was 100 degrees today because this is one of the hottest races we'll run this year," McMurray said. "Being cool, you're not going to learn a whole lot, but it's been good."

And McMurray is hoping he can, finally, get things turned around after so many tough races.

"Indy is at or near the top," McMurray said when asked about the best place to win. "It's special, and I think being able to win here in 2010 really was one of the highlights of my career."

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Racing

Close

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Bookmarks.
  3. Select Bookmark manager.
  4. Locate your current Sports Illustrated bookmark, click the Organize menu, then select Edit. You can now easily update the web address of your Sports Illustrated bookmark.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 2 easy steps:

  1. Click the Safari bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. This will open the Bookmarks Bar. In the Bookmarks Bar, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Address field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Firefox bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Show All Bookmarks.
  3. This will open the library window. In the Library window, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Location field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.
Don't Show This Again