Car number: 26 • Manufacturer: Ford • Sponsor: Crown Royal/Irwin Tools
Owner: Georgetta Roush
• Team: Roush Racing
• Crew Chief: Larry Carter
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin We stated in last year's annual that the jury was still out on Jamie McMurray and that by the time the 2006 season was complete, it would be in.
Well, the jury's in. We're not sure how you take a Roush machine -- a proven winner, at that -- and bring it home 25th in the final point standings. No wins, no poles, no TV time, no results.
The fact that McMurray went through three crew chiefs -- the last being a lame-duck employee -- in the span of one season hints that the driver is not at all comfortable in his surroundings. Nor does he appear to be happy.
McMurray is suffering from Rusty-itis; that is, he wants to call the shots on shock and other setup issues that should be left to the crew chief. As much as we hate to admit it, the engineers are now the guys setting up these packages. The driver relays information. If McMurray would leave the engineering to the engineers, he might find more success.
On a bright note, he was decent on the road courses last season, registering a third at Watkins Glen, and his plate-race skills are slightly above average. If he hopes to find success this season, that's where it will come.
Other than the road and plate tracks it may be a long season. When a team has a year like last, the natives get restless. Friction within the team may keep the 26 from enjoying a profitable campaign, which is a shame, because the resources at this team's disposal are nearly unmatched on the Cup circuit.
A complete 180-degree turnaround is of cardinal importance here. McMurray is signed through 2009, but we've seen owners and drivers alike wiggle out of those "agreements." Come to think out it, McMurray did that himself in 2005. And this is what all the fuss was about?
2006 Recap This team was looked at by many to be one of the next big things. Although the crew was largely revamped from the one that won the 2004 Nextel Cup title with Kurt Busch, it still had the Roush resources and a driver full of potential in Jamie McMurray taking the wheel.
The season actually had an encouraging start. McMurray had a top 10 run going at Daytona before a late pack-accident rendered him 37th. The California, Atlanta and Martinsville races all showed promise for a new team that was trying to jell. Decent finishes were peppered throughout the first half of the year before the team really hit the skids.
From the Chicago event through the Richmond transfer race, McMurray averaged a 23.5-place finish, totally eliminating any hopes this team might have had at securing a Chase bid.
The Chase races were just abysmal for the 26. McMurray DNF'ed in five of the last eight races of the season, dropping in the standings from mid-teens to mid-20s. Regardless of whether he was in test mode, results like that are totally unacceptable for a Roush team.
• The Good: Pit strategy put Jamie McMurray in the lead at the June Dover event for 95 laps. He ended the day with a runner-up finish, his best run of a dismal season.
• The Bad: At Kansas, McMurray's car was horrible and got lapped early. The car handled so poorly he crashed by himself, finishing 42nd.
• The Ugly: The fact that this team was the most disappointing of any on the circuit all year is ugly.