McMurray steals the show

Times wires

CONCORD, N.C. – Jamie McMurray picked up his third big Sprint

Cup victory in his comeback season, beating all the championship

contenders Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

McMurray, winner of the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 this

year, passed Kyle Busch on a restart with 21 laps to go to cruise

to the victory in his Chevrolet. It came eight years after his

first career victory, which came at Charlotte, in his second event

with Chip Ganassi Racing.

McMurray is not eligible for the Chase for the Championship but

was better than all the title contenders to become the first

non-Chase driver to win a Chase race at Charlotte since the format

began in 2004.

Busch led a race-high 218 laps but had to settle for second

after McMurray easily passed him on the restart. Busch had to hang

on for his spot when four-time defending series champion Jimmie

Johnson charged hard over the closing laps.

“Nobody can put it in perspective for me; it’s very, very

disappointing,” said Busch, who was apoplectic on his radio about

the debris caution that wiped out his lead. He ranted about the

restart that allowed McMurray to move ahead of him and refused to

accept that second place was a decent day.

Johnson, who spun early and dropped to 37th, completed an

improbable comeback.

Denny Hamlin was fourth and lost more ground to Johnson in the

Chase race.

With five races remaining, Johnson holds a 41-point lead over

Hamlin. They go next to Martinsville Speedway, where Johnson and

Hamlin have combined to win the past eight races.

Greg Biffle and Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth

finished fifth and sixth, and Joey Logano was seventh. Kevin

Harvick was eighth and maintained the third spot in the standings

but dropped 77 points behind Johnson.

Zephyrhills native David Reutimann and David Ragan rounded out

the top 10.

On Lap 309, a caution came out for debris in Turn 1. The

top-five cars stayed out while the rest of the lead-lap cars

elected to pit for new tires.

On the restart on Lap 314, Busch led, followed by McMurray,

Johnson, Hamlin, Biffle, Harvick, Logano, Regan Smith, Reutimann

and Kenseth.

Before the cars made it through Turn 2, McMurray passed Busch to

claim the lead for the third time in the race.

Going greener:

NASCAR will move from unleaded fuel

to an ethanol blend in all three of its national series beginning

next season.

NASCAR chairman Brian France touted

the switch to Sunoco Green E15 as another step by the auto racing

series toward environment-friendly practices.

“This is the most visible thing that we can do to let our

partners and our fans know that

NASCAR is taking a slow, steady

march as an industry,” France said.

The E15 blend is a mixture of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent

gasoline. It is a clean-burning, high-octane motor fuel, and the

ethanol portion is produced from renewable resources that Sunoco

will get from the Midwest. The blend will replace Sunoco 260

GTX.

Dueling the NFL: Track owner Bruton Smith says

NASCAR should push start times for

Sunday races back an hour to 2 p.m. to better compete against the

NFL. “If people want to tune in and watch football – and every game

seems to be about the same – by 2 o’clock maybe they’re tired of it

and then they’ll come over and watch a real sport,” he said.