Talladega Superspeedway’s first hit on the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs occurred early and violently Sunday on lap 25 of the Alabama 500.
Jamie McMurray, who slowed to enter pit road under green, got hit from behind by Erik Jones, spinning into the path of Jeffrey Earnhardt. The Nos. 1 and 33 made hard contact before Mark Thompson also became involved.
“I had been trying to get down a couple laps before,” McMurray said. “The spotter came over telling me the No. 18 [Kyle Busch] is going to let me in. Coming out of Turn 4, I heard the No. 18 lift.”
During green-flag pit stops at plate tracks, close calls are common when a third of the pack slows to pit speed. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is unsure what he could’ve done differently to avoid the wreck.
“Coming to pit road if always dangerous at this place,” he said. “I thought we were all coming in a group. It’s my fault for assuming that. I should maybe have asked more questions, I don’t know what I could’ve done different except get to the bottom differently.”
Entering Talladega, the second of three races in the Round of 12 in the playoffs, only one point to the good for advancement, an early wreck was the worst-case scenario.
“Not what I needed,” he said. “We have a ton of racing left, I assume I won’t be the first disappointment today.”
Jones contacted McMurray to cause the crash, saying there was nowhere to go in that circumstance.
“I gave [Kyle Busch] some extra room, when he swerved, the No. 1 was just sitting there,” Jones said. “It was guys trying to get from the top to the bottom for pit road. It’s unfortunate, we didn’t really get to race today.”
Jeffrey Earnhardt found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time again in 2017, suffering his 13th DNF of 2017.
“Obviously, small teams always have high hopes coming to these places,” he said “We actually made big improvements from our last superspeedway race. We were just riding around… it sucks.”
Green flag pit stops are always dicey. @JamieMcMurray is out of the race following a crash. #TeamJMac #NASCARPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/M3ac4Up11A
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 15, 2017
About the author
Growing up in Easton, Pa., Zach Catanzareti has grown his auto racing interest from fandom to professional. Joining Frontstretch in 2015, Zach enjoys nothing more than being at the track, having covered his first half-season of 18 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. With experience behind the wheel, behind the camera and in the media center, he thrives on being an all-around reporter.
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