July 26, 2010 by staff
The benefactor was the blunder Jamie McMurray, Earnhardt Montoya, Ganassi Racing teammate, who won a place in the history of NASCAR with his surprise victory in the Brickyard 400.
Taking advantage of the collapse of Montoya, McMurray joined Jimmie Johnson (2006) and Dale Jarrett (1996) as the only Cup driver to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season.
“I’m surprised I won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year,” said McMurray, who at this time last season was looking for a job for 2010. He was hired to lead the No. 1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing just before the end of the season in November.
“It’s been an incredible year,” he said.
The victory also gave his team owner Chip Ganassi a rare trifecta, he is the only car owner to win the Daytona 500, Brickyard and the Indianapolis 500 in the same season.
“I need oxygen!” Ganassi said of the pits after the victory. “I do not know what to say. My heart is with John, had a great day, too.
“But I tell you this is a day very, very big for our team.”
Montoya led 86 laps of 160 around the track two and a half miles, but let the lead when a caution for debris with 23 laps remaining sent the field into the pits. His crew chief Brian Pattie called for four tires, but the first six pilots in two pits.
McMurray’s strategy put forward in the restart with 18 laps to go, and Montoya was seventh. Trying to force his Chevrolet through traffic and back to front, Montoya lost control and crashed into the wall with 15 laps to go.
While Montoya, who drove his battered car to the garage and declined comment, was in despair at the motor-home lot, McMurray was sailing to victory.
Pattie took the blame for failure on Sunday. “Bad decision,” he said. “The team leader of error. Should we have taken two tires.”
The rest of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing staggered along the fine line of holding McMurray while sympathizing with Montoya.
“I know he’s crazy,” Ganassi said of Montoya. “I’m sure he’s crazy. But it is about it. It’s the competition. This is what he does for a living.”
Montoya led 116 laps last year to speed up a late penalty cost him the victory. He finished 32nd Sunday after starting from the pole.
Kevin Harvick finished second. Greg Biffle was third, followed by Clint Bowyer and two-time Indy winner, Tony Stewart.
Harvick increased his lead in the overall standings with 184 points over Jeff Gordon, who finished 23rd.
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