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McMurray captures second career Nextel Cup victory at Daytona

Jul 8, 2007 - 6:07 AM DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) -- It had been nearly five years, but Jamie McMurray again reached racing bliss.

McMurray recorded his second career NASCAR Nextel Cup Series victory by winning Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Raceway.

It was the first time McMurray, who drove a Ford Fusion, entered the winner's circle since 2002, when he scored his only other career victory as a replacement driver for an injured Sterling Marlin in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte.

"I always said for five years, however long, there would never be another victory like Charlotte," McMurray said. "And you wait so long to win. Every driver out here can tell you how special it is."

McMurray, who won $302,500, averaged 138.983 miles-per-hour while edging Kyle Busch - who finished second in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo - by a mere five one-thousandths of a second. It tied for the second-closest finish in a Nextel Cup race since NASCAR started electronic scoring in 1993.

The two drivers battled for the lead on the last lap, with McMurray winning by the nose of his bumper.

"I knew I had to go into Turn 3 and give up (the lead) a little bit and let Jamie get ahead of me going into Turn 4 so that I could get the suck down the front straightaway," Busch said. "But I didn't let him get far enough ahead. You know, it was just a mistake on my part."

Busch's older brother Kurt came in third in a Dodge Charger, followed by the Ford of Carl Edwards and the Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon.

Gordon, who continues to lead the official drivers standings with 2,773 points, thought he had a shot to win until the last lap.

"I thought we had a shot at winning this thing there for a second," Gordon said. "I knew when I lost my drafting partner and my teammates Casey Mears and Jimmie Johnson, I was in trouble."

Gordon owns a 277-point lead over Denny Hamlin, who was wrecked by teammate Tony Stewart on Turn 4 of lap 15. Stewart, the two-time defending race winner, rammed Hamlin from the rear, sending both cars into the wall.

"(Hamlin) just stopped for no reason, right in the middle of Turn 4," an upset Stewart said. "I'm sure he was getting tight because for three laps in a row, we were catching him through the center and the exit of the corner."

Stewart finished 38th, while Hamlin was last among the 43 drivers.

Greg Biffle came in sixth in a Ford. The top 10 was rounded out by the Chevy of Clint Bowyer, the Ford of Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne's Dodge and Johnson's Chevy.

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