McMurray expects to stay with Roush Fenway, Crown Royal

Updated: July 26, 2008, 6:03 PM ET

Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

Jamie McMurray said he expects to continue to crawl into a Roush Fenway Racing Ford beyond this year.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jamie McMurray squelched reports on Saturday that he might be on his way out at Roush Fenway Racing.

"If you guys want to print the truth, the truth is I'll be there with Crown Royal [as a sponsor]," McMurray said after his qualifying lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "It's 100 percent."

McMurray's name had been connected with the fourth car at Richard Childress Racing. Sources close to the situation said RCR made a run at him but couldn't get him out of the final year of his contract at Roush.

"Richard is looking for a driver, and I'm somewhat flattered to have my name on the list that another owner would want you," McMurray said. "But I will be in this car and not at Richard Childress Racing."

Speculation intensified that McMurray could be on his way out on Friday when team owner Jack Roush seemingly slighted him.

"With the line I've drawn across the sand, nobody is going to take Carl Edwards from me, nobody is going to take Matt Kenseth from me, nobody is going to take David Ragan from me, nobody's going to take Greg Biffle from me," Roush said.

There was no mention of McMurray, but Roush later came back and said McMurray "is important to me."

He also acknowledged disappointment with the performance of McMurray, who is 22nd in points.

"It's been a tough season, for sure, and this is a performance-based business and the 26 team, if you look at results, hasn't been as good as the other four teams," McMurray said. "So Jack is just kind of stating the obvious.

"I can't control what Jack says, and sometimes Jack will go off a little bit and it maybe gets out of control, but it's not that big of a deal."

-- David Newton

Hendrick boys pace practice

Jimmie Johnson


For a second consecutive day -- sandwiched around a strong qualifying session -- Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon paced practices at the Brickyard.

Johnson earned the pole Saturday morning and led the final practice in the afternoon at 176.298 mph in the No. 48 Chevrolet, some 1.3 mph faster than the next car -- Gordon's No. 24 Chevy (174.958 mph). Gordon, who qualified fifth, led the first Saturday practice with a hot lap of 174.496 mph.

There were no accidents in the sessions, though Robby Gordon briefly had flames trailing from the rear of his No. 7 Dodge and Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. brushed the wall in their Dodges.

-- John Schwarb

Old feud continues between Wallace, Newman

Rusty Wallace's feud with former Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman continued Friday when he insinuated that Newman had been fired for next season.

Team owner Roger Penske refuted that, reiterating it was a mutual separation, as was said more than a week ago. Newman -- who is expected to become the second driver at Stewart-Haas Racing, which sparked the separation -- also said it was mutual.

Asked whether Wallace hates him enough to say what he did Friday, Newman said, "There is potential for that."

Newman qualified third for Sunday's race.

-- David Newton

Busch flare-up at ORP

There's no mystery to finding the top car in two of NASCAR's circuits. Kyle Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is the best in Sprint Cup, and anyone driving Gibbs' No. 20 in the Nationwide Series is the one to beat (though Clint Bowyer leads the points).

Matters are different in the Craftsman Truck Series, as Johnny Benson won Friday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park to extend his points lead to 15.

Benson, of Bill Davis Racing, held off Kevin Harvick Inc.'s Ron Hornaday Jr. through four restarts over the final 39 laps on the .686-mile short track to notch his third win of the season, tying Hornaday for the series lead in victories through 14 events. The two veterans have combined to win five of the past six races, with Benson's No. 23 Toyota taking three of the last four.

"It's been a fun year, but it's also been a complicated year," said Benson, whose three finishes of 25th or worse have kept him from a bigger championship lead over second-place Hornaday and ThorSport Racing's Matt Crafton (31 points back in third).

Busch, racing in all three series this weekend, was never in contention for his third truck win of the season with Billy Ballew Motorsports, but his eighth-place finish wasn't uninteresting. For the second consecutive race, the part-time driver was involved in an incident with Chad McCumbee of MRD Motorsports.

After smashing into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 136, McCumbee drove almost an entire lap with his wrecked Chevy to pull in front of Busch under caution, airing his frustration.

"Unfortunately, the No. 51 took us out again. He drives as hard as he can every lap and that is what you have got to do, but we are racing here for points and trying to protect ourselves," McCumbee said. "I might get to see him a little bit more than he thinks the rest of the year and might get to race with him a little bit more."

-- John Schwarb



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Carpentier fastest of go-or-go-homers

Patrick Carpentier


For a guy who has sweated out qualifying all season, rookie Patrick Carpentier has fared very well. Saturday was another good day.

The Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver hasn't missed a race since the fifth event of the season -- mid-March at Bristol -- and he won't miss the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, either. Carpentier qualified his No. 10 Dodge 15th at 179.476 mph, the fastest go-or-go-home car and the fastest rookie.

"I had more stress here than some other places," said Carpentier, who is 37th in points. "This place is always intimidating, so much history, and it's so long, the straightaways and the corners."

Carpentier, one of several former open-wheelers trying to forge a path in NASCAR, has history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 500, starting 25th and finishing 21st for Cheever Racing in 2005.

"I like driving these things," Carpentier said of stock cars. "I don't know why. It's like a rental car on steroids. The thing has got so much power."

Jason Leffler qualified 21st in the No. 70 Toyota of Haas CNC Racing and will race in his fifth Brickyard. Fellow Haas driver Scott Riggs also will race Sunday, starting 35th.

"Qualifying for the Brickyard is really cool. Nothing beats that," said Leffler, whose busy week included Thursday night midget racing and Saturday's Nationwide race at nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park.

A.J. Allmendinger also could exhale by lunchtime Saturday, putting the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota in the field at 26th. He failed to qualify last year in the midst of a long summer of DNQs.

"It's Indy, it's a big deal," Allmendinger said. "I had some bad memories after last year, I was just trying to get those out of my head and to get in. It'll be pretty special, walking out on the grid."

Bill Elliott, the 1988 Cup champion and 2002 Brickyard winner, won't get that chance. His No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford was one of four that failed to qualify on speed, and his past champion's provisional was trumped by that of Terry Labonte, a Cup champion in 1996. The most recent champion is awarded the provisional.

"We just fought everything. It's just a bad deal with the way we ended up," Elliott said. "I think these guys have got a lot of good ideas, but until you go test and figure some of this stuff out, it's just hard to unload."

Also failing to qualify were Johnny Sauter, Tony Raines and Stanton Barrett.

-- John Schwarb

Ambrose and new JTG Racing make show

Marcos Ambrose


The prospects for hitting the bricks Sunday didn't look good for Marcos Ambrose and the new No. 47 JTG Racing team when they unloaded Friday. The team turned two laps in practice, and the second-year Nationwide driver said the team "didn't know what to do with the car."

So, of course, they made it. Ambrose qualified 24th, third-fastest among drivers qualifying on speed. Ambrose's first Brickyard start will also be his first on a Cup oval; he raced at Sonoma, Calif., in June, bowing out early in 42nd with transmission failure.

"I've never been so anxious and nervous and apprehensive in all my life," Ambrose said. "We're racing against the big boys, and we qualified ourselves in on merit. We've done it our own way, the hard way. I feel like today I've made it. We're gonna have a great day tomorrow no matter where we finish just because we've made it in."

-- John Schwarb

Kvapil, Smith earn Brickyard stripes

Regan Smith failed to post a qualifying lap on the 2.5-mile oval, hitting the wall in Turn 1 and slowing. The rookie will start 42nd by virtue of the owner points at Dale Earnhardt Inc.

"I got off [Turn] 4 really good and went down into [Turn] 1, and it never gripped. I went straight toward the wall," Smith said. "I messed up. I overdrove it and I missed the mark. The track was a little slicker than yesterday."

Kvapil also hit the Turn 1 wall in his Yates Ford but continued on and qualified 28th, not bad with a wall scrub.

"I was surprised it went as fast as it did," said Kvapil, a two-time Brickyard starter with a high finish of 25th in 2006. "I knew I hit it pretty hard, but I didn't think it damaged the car that bad. It didn't hurt the steering. You've just got to go for it and get the best of it."

-- John Schwarb


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