Jamie McMurray living on the NASCAR Cup playoff bubble


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Jamie McMurray stands 11th in NASCAR Playoff points, one position above the cutoff line to advance to Round 2 of the 16-driver, 10-race, four-round, championship-deciding postseason. He’s nine points ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Dillon, who are tied for 12th.

His task in Sunday afternoon’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway is to keep his advantage over them to ensure a place among the 12 drivers in Round 2.

Even with points so important, McMurray doesn’t care to know where he stands in points throughout the 400-lap, 400-mile race. “To me, the only time knowing (relative positions) makes a difference is if someone is pressuring you in the closing laps and you don’t need that position,” he explained Friday at Dover. “But if you’ve made this guy mad earlier in the race or earlier in the year and you think he might get into you, maybe you let him go. But otherwise, every single lap you race as hard as you can. Every single restart you get everything you can, so there is really nothing you can do about it.”

Maybe McMurray is whistling past the graveyard, but he doesn’t look at Sunday as an elimination race. Four of the 16 drivers who began the Playoffs three weeks ago will be cut from championship contention, and everyone below fourth-ranked Brad Keselowski is subject to being eliminated. The bottom four going into Dover are Stenhouse (ahead of Dillon based on victories, 2-1), Ryan Newsman, former champion Kurt Busch, and Kasey Kahne. With a decent run on Sunday, the driver of the Ganassi-Sabates Racing No. 1 Chevrolet will move forward.

 


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“For the most part, I felt that every race was a cutoff race this year or last year,” McMurray said. “You’re waiting (during the regular season) to see if there’ll be a first-time winner when you go to the plate races. When we get closer to Richmond (the race before the Playoffs), you’re racing (specific people) to get in the top-16. This year, there toward the end, it was Matt (Kenseth), Chase (Elliott), Clint (Bowyer), and Erik Jones. I mean, every week is like that, so I don’t really view this weekend differently than I have any of the races this year because there’s not a lot you can do about it.

“I try really hard every weekend to go out and do my best. Sometimes cautions fall your way and sometimes they don’t. Last weekend, at New Hampshire, a car got into me on one of the last restarts. I don’t think it was anything intentional, and it barely knocked the quarter panel in on the tire. I was concerned of that tire blowing if we stayed out and lost six or eight spots if I had to pit. There are things like that you can’t control. So I don’t really view this weekend as more pressure. I don’t even look at it as a cutoff race. I just view it as the next race, and I’ll do the best I can.”















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