Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray endure 'horrible day' for Ganassi
Disaster struck for Chase for the Sprint Cup contender Kyle Larson on Lap 36 of Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway.
And unfortunately for Chip Ganassi Racing, more trouble wasn't far behind for Larson's teammate, Jamie McMurray. Both ended the day being eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs as a result.
"It was a horrible day for our organization," said McMurray, who finished last in the 40-car field after he lost the engine in his No. 01 Chevy just shy of halfway in the 400-lap race.
Larson encountered his difficulties first.
Larson had to come to pit road for what appeared to be a battery issue after his No. 42 Ganassi Chevrolet lost power. In fact, he had to be pushed part of the way by a track emergency vehicle.
Then it went from bad to worse for Larson, who entered the race holding onto the 12th and final transfer spot into the next round of the Chase playoffs -- but only five points in front of his CGR teammate, McMurray.
As Larson's crew worked feverishly to fix the problem and get him back on the racetrack, he went down one lap. Shortly after returning to the action on the track, however, Larson received word that he needed to serve an additional pass-through penalty for having too many crew members over the wall during his stop.
With pit-road speed at the 1-mile track only 35 miles per hour, Larson dropped two more laps to the leaders as he served his pass-through penalty. That left him three laps down and on the wrong side of the Chase elimination cutoff by the time he finally got up to speed again at the Monster Mile.
"I don't know what happened with the battery or whatever, but I lost power and lost a lap," Larson said. "Then we had too many men over the wall. Really, if we hadn't had too many men over the wall we probably would have been all right, because I was only a lap down."
McMurray seemed to be on the verge of racing his way into the next round of the Chase when he later lost the motor in his No. 01 CGR Chevy.
"We had a vibration early in the race. Then it went away and everything seemed fine," McMurray said. "Then it started vibrating again. It lasted 20 or 30 laps and finally the engine let go."
The direct beneficiary of the bad luck and poor pit stops by the CGR teams was Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing. By virtue of his solid eight-place run and the eventual poor finishes by Larson (25th) and McMurray, Dillon was able to lift himself from the bottom four going into the race to advance to the second round of the Chase.
"It's a nice little early Christmas present for Austin there by both Ganassi cars," a somber Larson noted.