With about 15 minutes remaining in Happy Hour, Jamie McMurray slammed into the wall between Turns 3 and 4 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after cutting his left rear tire.
“Yeah, I actually felt it pop or go flat really early,” McMurray said. “I just couldn’t get slowed down. Every time I got on the brakes it wheel hopped. I felt like I was going to turn right. I was trying to get the car slowed down and I knew for a long time I just couldn’t get it slowed down enough.
“I’m a little more puzzled than I am hurt.”
McMurray’s accident mirrored the wreck his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Juan Pablo Montoya had one day earlier after just three laps on the track.
“It’s weird, because we had just put new tires on and actually added air to the left rear, trying to make it better,” McMurray said. “We hadn’t had a problem, but we were just trying to be safe. So it’s a little puzzling that it actually blew out now, where we were trying to be more conservative.”
Greg Stucker, director, race tire sales for Goodyear, said the issue with the EGR cars was isolated from the rest of the Sprint Cup field.
“We know what they were running for air pressure, and they were down on the very low end of the spectrum,” Stucker said. “I think they recognized that. So we had conversations with both teams when it happened. Actually, with the 1 (McMurray), the tire they had on prior to that was showing some indications that it was getting close as well — it had between 30 and 40 laps.
“They understand where they are with their pressures. They’re down below what we recommend as a minimum — a lot of people are — but you just have to manage that. I think it’s isolated to those two. I’m sure there are other guys pushing the envelope, too, but I think it’s pretty obvious what that was.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup director John Darby confirmed the team had requested additional time to work on the damaged vehicle after the garage closed on Saturday.
“It is very common for a team in trouble to request some additional time to work,” Darby said. “Typically, we do our best to accommodate that type of request. The No. 1 has made a request and we will allow it.”
EGR was awarded an additional hour by NASCAR to finish repairs on the car. The team was flying up a fabricator up from North Carolina to expedite the process. McMurray seemed relieved since the original car showed tremendous promise. McMurray qualified 11th and posted the 10th-fastest lap (132.734 mph) in final practice — 0.147 seconds behind Brian Vickers, who topped the speed chart (133.417 mph).
“It’s really hard to pass here and I thought our car was really good in practice,” McMurray said. “It’s definitely the best car I’ve had here at Loudon. So we want to race this car.
“It’s mainly cosmetic. So if they can get the panels out and get it where it’s presentable, I think we’re going to try to race this car tomorrow.”