McMurray keeping options close to the vest

Despite the news that Jamie McMurray is the odd man out at Roush Fenway Racing, the popular racer remains a realist.

The announcement that he was the fifth man at RFR really came as “no surprise.” After all, everyone in the garage understood that Roush would have to pare down to four teams for 2010.

What’s next?

Jamie McMurray

McMurray’s best bet: In the four seasons since moving to Roush, McMurray has never averaged better than 20th in the point standings. Although Yates Racing remains an option to McMurray, certainly, he would be a better fit with the Ganassi organization where he experienced relative success. McMurray functions well as a contributing teammate and would be an asset to any sponsor.

— Lee Spencer

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And McMurray knew the sponsorship agreements. He knew that his teammates — Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards — had all recently extended their contracts. And he knew that UPS had a three-year deal with David Ragan.

And although McMurray, 33, knows what his options are for next season, he’s going to wait and discuss what his plans are once the ink dries on the contract.

“I’ll wait and talk about it when I know what my plans are going to be,” McMurray said. “I don’t think it does me any good to speculate on what’s going to happen or what is happening until I announce what our plans are.

“I figure we’ll announce what’s going on all at one time.”

After substituting for the injured Sterling Marlin in the No. 40 car at Ganassi Racing, McMurray won his first Cup race in just his second start. Ganassi signed McMurray to a full-time deal for 2003 and he finished 13th or better in the point standings during the three seasons he raced in the No. 42 car.

In 2006, McMurray moved to Roush Racing but he’s never experienced the same consistency he enjoyed at Ganassi Racing. He won one pole and the July Daytona race under the direction of Larry Carter in 2007. However, since joining the Roush stable, McMurray’s best point finish was 16th last season.

This season, Jack Roush reunited McMurray with his former Ganassi crew chief Donnie Wingo in hopes of turning the No. 26 team around once and for all. But with the struggles that Roush Fenway Racing has experienced as a whole, the transition has not been as smooth as all parties had hoped for and McMurray remains fourth of the five Roushketeers.

“I think Donnie unfortunately came at a time when the organization wasn’t as strong as it had been in years past,” McMurray said. “With the amount of races Roush won last year, it just seemed like every week there was a car contending for the win. Our cars are just a little bit off right now and so I know it’s a little bit frustrating for him.

“When you have the success an organization has had — and you get there — you always feel like there’s going to be magic or a secret button. But racing is hard work. Racing has its ups and downs.”

McMurray finished 21st at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. He is currently 20th in the point standings. Earlier this year, he was the top finishing Roush Ford at Las Vegas and Martinsville. Lately, McMurray has bounced between being a 15th-to-20th place car.

“Certainly, our performance hasn’t been very good this year,” McMurray said. “Our cars have been a little bit off. We’ve had a couple of part failures and it has resulted in not very good finishes. Over the last few weeks — Chicago and Indy were really bad. We’ve been a 20th-place car. We qualified around 20th and that’s where we ran all day.

“You get so mentally high and low in racing, you just have to remember that it doesn’t stay that way forever. You just wait for it to turn.”