Jamie McMurray

NASCAR America: Jamie McMurray sees Sonoma as track he can win at

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While a lot of talk this season has revolved around his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray has been having his own impressive year to date.

McMurray is fresh off earning his second top five of the year. He didn’t earn his second last year until the season finale. Heading to Sonoma Raceway, McMurray is seventh in the points.

McMurray told NASCAR America’s Dave Burns he thinks he’ll have to win a race in order to get into the playoffs.

McMurray also said he always looks forward to Sonoma, a track he has two poles at in the last four years.

“For me that’s a track I think of every single year that we can win at,” McMurray said. “Our cars have been so good this year at different type tracks, we’ll be in contention this weekend and I’m look forward to that.”

McMurray had three poles total at Sonoma. His best finish is second in 2004, but he placed fourth in 2014. In 14 starts, he has an average finish of 16.3.

Watch the above video for more, including McMurray’s thoughts in Larson’s success.

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte says ‘Debris cautions need to be proven,’ namely in playoffs

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Following the controversy Sunday over a debris caution with 20 laps left in the Cup race at Michigan, NASCAR America analyst Steve Letarte said such cautions “need to be proven” to protect the integrity of the race, especially once the season reaches the playoffs.

“We’re talking about an untimely caution at Michigan in the summer,” Letarte said. “What happens when we get into the playoffs in the fall? I think NASCAR, the sanctioning body and the tracks have a responsibility to create a playing field and a set of rules they can enforce. The debris needs to be proven. …  There’s too many loopholes. ”

The caution with 20 to go resulted in the field being bunched up and two accidents occurring in the final 13 laps.

After the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart shared their disappointment in how the debris caution impacted the outcome of the race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, explained on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” Monday how the sanctioning body decides to call a debris caution.

“We use all the resources that we have to try to identity what it is that is out there – that being camera, turn spotters and the communication that we’ve got around the race track to different people who may be able to see it,’’ Miller said.

Letarte takes issue with the level of thoroughness in NASCAR’s system to determine when a debris caution is needed.

“If we take for face value what NASCAR says, which is they put safety first and they’re going to put the caution out when they don’t know what it is on the race track … then the issue I have is the resources we use to figure what that debris is,” Letarte said.

Letarte also criticized the fact that NASCAR’s race control both decides when the caution comes out for debris and also determines what the debris is.

“They provide their own information,” Letarte said. “It’s their responsibility to put spotters, cameras and whatever other technology is out there. … I don’t think that technology has changed enough in the last 15 years.”

Former crew chief Slugger Labbe said late debris cautions are “untimely,” but are an “essence of safety” for drivers.

“Just think if there was something was there and they (NASCAR) weren’t sure what it was, if it was rubber or it was metal,” Labbe said. “Someone runs over it, blows a tire at 218 mph at Michigan. We saw what Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray looked liked getting into Turn 1 at Pocono (after their brakes failed). I get it. I’ve benefited from debris cautions and I’ve paid the price on debris cautions. It goes both ways.”

Veteran driver and analyst Parker Kligerman called on NASCAR to be more transparent with its debris yellows, perhaps by presenting the evidence for them postrace — or admitting the error if there turned out to be no debris.

Watch the above video for the full discussion.

What drivers said after Michigan Cup race

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Kyle Larson — Winner: Ryan Blaney gave me a heck of a push. So, I’ve really got to thank him a ton. I knew the Penske cars took off good, so I was happy to see him behind me. For us to withstand a few restarts there with some tough competitors there was pretty important.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 2nd: “It was all just about how your push went. I am really proud of our effort today. I thought we really improved from where we were last year as far as those late-race restarts go and was able to hang with them and really just kind of rely on the guy behind you. Kyle (Busch) gave me a great push. I didn’t give him a very good push that time before. He went a little sooner than I thought he was going to. He gave me a good push and I think somebody pulled out on him. He had to go block them and it just ends up kind of disrupting the whole situation when that happens.”

Joey Logano — Finished 3rd: “You have no idea how good this feels. It’s been a struggle the last month-and-a-half and it’s nice to come here to Michigan, maybe our best race track and be able to overcome a lot. I’m not sure we had a third-place car today but the team executed like they needed to get the Shell-Pennzoil Ford into the top three. Proud of the effort. I wish I could have the last restart back. I think I could have gotten to second.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 4th: “Really good car. You know, everything we needed to do we did. Had one little hiccup on pit road, but for the most part we ran really well all day, had good speed in our Camry and pretty happy. I knew I was going to have a tough time on the bottom. Everyone did have a tough time on the bottom, so I tried to do my best and that’s all I had.” 

Jamie McMurray – Finished 5th: “We started off really loose. It almost seemed like the track was going through a weird transition at the beginning. You get two or three good laps and it almost was like you catch a gust of wind and have to hang on to the car. You would slide up the race track, but they did a really good job adjusting on it.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR — Finished 6th: “We had the best car out there without a doubt – just inside lane restarts at the end killed us, so just stinks when you have to race like that, you know? You get just in a bad spot and there’s nothing you can do about it. We seen it the last couple restarts, so just wrong place. Probably should have took two tires that last time we pitted – we took four. That killed us. Just wrong lane on the restart every single time all day long and couldn’t use the best car to win.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 8th: “We had a pit road penalty there for speeding late in the race. We worked hard all day. We have a good baseline to come back with in August here at Michigan.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. – Finished 9th: “We had a great car. Just had a hard time getting any track position and keeping it. Greg (Ives, crew chief) did a good job trying to get us that track position on one stop. We just got real loose on that run, about wrecked the car a couple of times and lost a lot of spots. Got lucky there at the end to restart on the outside in 18th and got a bunch of spots there the last few laps to finish in the top 10.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 10th: “Just getting inside the top 10 the cars are so equal on pace. It’s really a one-groove track still that it’s just hard to make anything happen. Unfortunately, we went to the back, I think if we would have started further forward it would have been a little better day for us. But, just racing at Michigan that is what it is.”

Erik Jones — Finished 13th: “Yeah, just a long day overall. Just never quite had the car to – I think we really needed – we were fighting just being free and as the day went on we never really fixed that issue and that loose wheel early kind of got us pinned in a strategy we didn’t want to be in. Had a lot of laps – I think we had 86 laps on our left side tires – and just couldn’t quite get it there at the end.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 14th: “We were just too tight. Tight all day long and we could not get it loosened up enough to be able to challenge. It is too bad really. Just too tight.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 16th: “We just weren’t really where we needed to be. We had a few bright spots but we couldn’t get it there at the end.”

Darrell Wallace Jr. — Finished 19th: “It was a lot better than last week for sure. I just didn’t get all of it on restarts and what I thought was aggressive. Going back to the Xfinity side, I am one of the aggressive ones, but you have to be 10 times more aggressive here at least. It is a learning curve. It was a solid run all day. I knew we would run a lot better than where we started, it was just a matter of getting around those guys, getting track position and clean air. The restarts were wild at the end.”

RYAN BLANEY — Finished 25th: “We held second for a while then four tires ate us up. We couldn’t restart on the bottom. That didn’t bode well for us. I went into (Turn) 1 and got super loose. I hate that it took a couple cars out off (Turn) 2. I got really free for some reason. It caught me off guard which made it look bad. We had a decent enough car to run up there once we got track position.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 26th: “We were sitting there seventh with 20 laps to go reeling them in thinking this was our day, and then a debris caution forces a restart. Restarts are the only times you can pass, so everyone was racing hard, and I got into the wall. It killed our day.”

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Results of Michigan 400

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Kyle Larson won his second consecutive Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, taking the lead from Kyle Busch after a late restart Sunday and hanging on for his third career win.

Both of the Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s wins have come on 2-mile ovals this season (Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and Michigan).

Chase Elliott finished second, followed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray.

Martin Truex Jr., who won the first two stages in the race, finished sixth.

Click here for the results of Sunday’s race at Michigan.

Kyle Larson holds off Chase Elliott to capture FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan

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Talk about bookending: Kyle Larson started the race weekend by being fastest in practice, then qualified No. 1 and went on to win Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Larson has now won the last two Cup races at MIS, having scored his first career Cup win there last August.

Sunday’s win is the third career win for Larson, who won earlier this year at Fontana. That means Larson has won the last three races at NASCAR’s two 2-mile speedways.

Larson led a race-high 96 of 200 laps. The win also put him back into first place in the NASCAR Cup standings, overtaking Martin Truex Jr. Larson now leads Truex by five points.

“For us to withstand a few restarts there at the end with some tough competitors was pretty important,” Larson said in victory lane to FS1. “Cool to win it and a great Father’s Day present for myself, too.”

MORE: Results of Michigan 400

MORE: Kyle Larson moves atop points standings, but Martin Truex Jr. increases playoff lead

For the third consecutive race at MIS, Chase Elliott finished runner-up.

“From where we started the day to where we ended up, I was real proud of our effort,” Elliott told FS1. “I’m happy we could have a solid day, put ourselves into position … had a couple opportunities to get the lead, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. We’ll move on … and try to get ’em next week.”

Joey Logano finished third, his best finish since his April 30 win at Richmond. In five races between Richmond and Michigan, Logano hadn’t finished higher than 21st.

Denny Hamlin finished fourth, followed by Larson’s teammate, Jamie McMurray. Sixth through 10th were Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson

Truex won both Stage 1 and 2, giving him 10 stage wins for the season. Kyle Busch is second with four stage wins.

HOW LARSON WON: On the final restart with five laps to go, Larson bumped fenders with Denny Hamlin going into Turn 1, regained the lead and then sailed away to victory lane. He also had the most dominant car of the day, leading almost half of the race.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Joey Logano broke his five-race run of poor performances with a third-place finish. Likewise for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished ninth to earn his third top-10 finish of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Danica Patrick finished last in the 37-car field, but it was not her fault. She was involved in a late-race crash after Bubba Wallace ran into the rear of Daniel Suarez, who slammed into Patrick. Her Ford hit hard on the inside wall.

NOTABLE: Ryan Sieg finished 33rd in his first NASCAR Cup race. … Darrell Wallace Jr. finished 19th in his second career Cup race. … Trevor Bayne finished 17th and made a quick getaway as his wife is expected to give birth to the couple’s second child on Monday.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “We’ve been so close to so many other wins. This is our second Cup win of the year, but we’ve had (five) second-place finishes. All in all a good season so far and we’ll continue to keep building on what we’ve got.” – Race winner Kyle Larson.

WHAT’S NEXT: The series goes west June 25 at Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the first of two road-course races.

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