Monday, March 5, 2012

EGR Rumbles: Through the Arizona Desert

The Arizona desert played host to the second Sprint Cup Series race of the season on Sunday afternoon. The Earnhardt-Ganassi team of Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray were simply hoping to put a disappointing weekend at Daytona behind them and turn their luck around, but for one driver lady luck was not on his side.

Still sore from the impact in Monday's Daytona 500, Juan Pablo Montoya started the Subway Fresh Fit 500 from the fifth position following a strong qualifying run on Saturday. Hoping to stay in the top-10 throughout the day, Montoya reported to the team on Lap 40 that the handling on the car was a little loose. Hoping to rectify the situation, the team took four tires and fuel while making adjustments to the car during the second pit stop of the day.

Adjustments only made the car tight and at one point the driver radioed the team that his car was "plowing" through the corners. The team worked tirelessly to get the handling under control but as the day progressed Montoya fell outside the top-10, and fell one lap down. Earning the Aaron's Lucky Dog Montoya restarted in 21st on Lap 231 but was quickly told to conserve fuel. Fuel conservation plaid off for the Target Chevy allowing Montoya to finish in the 11th position.

Phoenix wasn't kind to Jamie McMurray. After qualifying 21st the Bass Pro Shops Chevy spent most of the day outside the top-10 slowly moving forward one position at a time. Unfortunately for the No. 1 team, the day would go downhill from there. While in a close battle for the 15th position with AJ Allmendinger and Paul Menard, the No. 27 of Menard got into the No. 22 of Allmendinger collecting McMurray in the process. The team worked hard to fix the right front of the McMurray car allowing him to return to the track. Crew chief Kevin Manion told McMurray, "you'll be fine. Who needs a right front fender anyway?"

Although the car was able to return to action following the accident with Menard and Allmendinger, McMurray's day ended early due to engine troubles. McMurray said, "I don't know the motor blew up again. I don't don't know what happened there. It started missing, and started smoking and just quit running, tough day." McMurray finished 37th.

Next weekend the cars head to Las Vegas where Montoya hopes to finish stronger and McMurray just hopes to finish. 


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