Turning point? McMurray looking to build on Charlotte momentum

Jamie McMurray enjoyed a terrific two races at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Prior to arriving at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 17, Jamie McMurray was frustrated.

The main source of his frustration?

Being unable to turn solid cars into equally solid results this season.

Now with two races at Charlotte in the books, McMurray’s struggle appears to have eased — considerably.

After backing up an impressive win in the Sprint All-Star Race with a season-best points finish of fifth in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the veteran driver is feeling confident about where his team is headed under the direction of first-year crew chief Keith Rodden.

Power Rankings: Who's on top after the Coca-Cola 600?

McMurray started 26th in Sunday night’s 600-mile marathon but quickly made his way into the top 15 and went on to lead three times for a total of 34 laps on the point.

"We had a really good car," McMurray said. "We did the strategy of staying out. It’s unbelievable how quick the car was out front. I’m sure it’s that way for everyone. Keith was adjusting on it. The motor ran really good tonight.

"I was really impressed with the Hendrick power. Just an all-around good night."

McMurray’s Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet was easily a top-10 car, and perhaps could have pulled off the rare all-star/Coke 600 sweep had it not been for one ill-timed caution that left McMurray at the tail end of the lead lap and playing catch-up the rest of the race.

"I feel like we’ve run well enough all year long that it’s not really any different," said McMurray, who had just two top-10 finishes in 11 points races prior to Sunday. "It just seems like the luck has turned a little bit. When the cautions fell wrong tonight (in the Coke 600), I got a little nervous.

Photos: The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

"But our car was good enough to recover. Really, our cars have been pretty awesome all year long."

Despite coming up short in the 600, it was still a terrific outing for McMurray’s entire No. 1 Chevrolet team just eight days after earning a hefty $1 million payday in the all-star race — a non-points affair.

"The caution fell a couple of laps wrong for us," McMurray said. "Keith did a really good job adjusting on the car, and our car was fast enough that even when we went to the back we were able to recover and get back to the top-five, which is great.

"We’ve had such good cars all year long and have not been able to capitalize because of tire issues or just some bad luck."

With Dover International Speedway — a track where he qualified seventh and finished 11th in September — on tap this weekend, McMurray hopes to continue his front-running ways. And he believes he will.

"Dover is one of my favorite tracks," McMurray said. "I’m looking forward to getting there."