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Archive for Sunday, February 22, 2004

McMurray makes history

Busch winner takes fourth straight title at The Rock

February 22, 2004

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— Jamie McMurray used the latest scrape between Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon to drive into the North Carolina Speedway record book.

McMurray won his fourth consecutive Busch series race at The Rock on Saturday, passing Harvick for the lead with 20 laps to go when Harvick got tied up with Gordon.

The victory in the Goody's Headache Powder 200 tied McMurray with Mark Martin, who swept the Busch races here in 1996 and 1997.

"I remember watching Mark win here before I was even racing stock cars," McMurray said. "I am not big on milestones, but I'll take it."

McMurray earned his first win here in 2002, then swept both events last year. He's now within one win of the Busch record of five consecutive victories at any track held by Dale Earnhardt at Daytona and Jack Ingram at South Boston.

After taking the lead, McMurray still had to hold off a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. over the final five laps to preserve the win. McMurray's Dodge beat Truex's Chevrolet to the finish line by about two car lengths to duplicate the finishing order from here last fall.

"Just like last year, we needed about five more laps and just ran out of time," said Truex, who led a race-high 68 laps in a car partially owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The fourth and final caution of the race set up the ending, and began when Aaron Fike crashed into the turn 3 wall. As his car sat idling on the track, Hermie Sadler came around and drove straight into Fike's driver side door.

Fike was transported to a nearby hospital for precautionary reasons.

When the field resumed racing, Harvick was the leader, McMurray was second and Gordon, Harvick's Nextel Cup teammate at Richard Childress Racing, was a lap down.

Harvick tried to pass him, Gordon tried to hold him off, and McMurray pounced as the two weren't paying attention. He went low on the track and passed Harvick for the lead.

"It looked like Robby was trying to get his lap back and he shoved Kevin up out of the way," McMurray said. "It was just perfect for me, an easy pass."

Harvick, who drives the Busch series car for RCR, ended up third. Gordon, who owns his own Busch team, finished 14th.

Despite being teammates in NASCAR's top series, the two have a long history of notorious feuds that doesn't appear to be cooling off.

"That was a lapped-down car sliding into a leader," Harvick said when asked about it. "You'll have to ask the guy holding the steering wheel. I haven't talked to him, it's a waste of air."

Gordon said there was no postrace discussion between the two, just a nonfriendly gesture from Harvick.

"He told me I was No. 1," Gordon said. "But he does that every week."

Michael Waltrip finished fourth and David Green was fifth. Pole-sitter Johnny Benson was sent to the back of the field before the start because his Dodge was found to have an illegal spring on it after qualifying, but he rallied to a ninth-place finish.

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