McMurray makes Chase history
September 11, 2016
Jamie McMurray has become the first driver in the history of the Sprint Cup Series to qualify for the Chase without leading a single lap during the regular season.
McMurray’s seventh place finish in the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway and a victory by a 2016 repeat winner in Denny Hamlin ensured the Chip Ganassi Racing driver a spot on the 16-driver Chase grid.
McMurray has not led a lap in any of the last 52 Sprint Cup Series races, dating back to the May 2015 Richmond race, the longest streak of his career.
This year will mark McMurray’s second career Chase berth and second consecutive.
“I feel better about our chances this year versus last year,” McMurray said. “I felt like last year headed into the Chase we didn't really have anything in our pocket as far as a little bit better cars.”
With teammate Kyle Larson qualifying for the Chase, 2016 marks the first time Chip Ganassi Racing has both of its cars make NASCAR’s playoffs.
“Well, when you look at Chip's organization, he's been so successful in IndyCars, the sports cars,” McMurray said. “We've won some big races in NASCAR, but the NASCAR side is really hard to keep on top, and it's that way for everybody.
“When you get down, it's really hard to climb your way back up. We made some changes earlier in the year as far as personnel. He moved some people around.
“The crew chiefs, everybody is working really well together, and they've been able to build some great cars, and he's proud of that because when you make those changes, there's no guarantee that it's going to show up on the racetrack, but it has.”
McMurray is seeded 16th entering next weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.
OF NOTE: Before McMurray, last season, Paul Menard previously held the mark of least laps led among Chase drivers at the beginning of the post-season, leading a total of one lap through the first 26 races of 2015. He led a total of 10 on the season.