Jamie McMurray’s victory in the Bank of America 500 represented a charge he leads alone.
McMurray didn’t make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. What he has done is win three of the season’s prestigious events. Earlier in the season, McMurray won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.
In 2007-08, Chase drivers won all 10 Chase races. McMurray broke that string by winning the autumn 2009 race at Talladega and did it again Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In other words, there is life outside the Chase. Mainly it resides in the cockpit of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy. McMurray’s Chevy outran Kyle Busch’s Toyota in the late stages of the Bank of America 500.
"After coming so close (second) in the (Coca-Cola) 600 earlier in the season, I really felt like anything less than winning (at Charlotte) would have been disappointing," McMurray said. "We had such a great car in the spring, and it just wasn’t good enough on the short run.
"Man, it was just our night. Our car was unbelievable those last 25 or 30 laps. It was effortless to drive, and it had a lot of speed in it. It was just a really good night for us."
McMurray’s first Cup victory occurred in the same race eight years earlier. What he has learned in the past two years, in particular, is the power of prayer.
"I just wanted it to be understood that, after the season that I had, or the last four years I had, I found the power of prayer, and that it’s something that I really believe in," he said after winning at CMS. "When I got to victory lane in Daytona, that’s what I was thinking about. You know, I was crying obviously because I was happy, but also because you feel like a prayer has been answered."
McMurray said he was praying during the final 10 laps.
"I was like, you know, if I win this race, Lord, if You don’t throw a caution, is what I said, and I win this race, I’m going to explain to people my feelings and why I felt that way."
Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston Gazette in North Carolina since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog, nascar.rbma.com, features his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Dutton at firstname.lastname@example.org.