Jamie McMurray falls just short of playoff push with 'chip' on his shoulder

Pat DeCola
NASCAR.com

Jamie McMurray was driving Monday with more than a Chip over his radio, but one on his shoulder, too.

Hours after a report surfaced indicating team owner Chip Ganassi has told the longtime CGR driver he would not be in the No. 1 Chevrolet full time for the 2019 season, McMurray gutted out one of his best performances of the season in a do-or-die situation.

MORE: Report: Jamie McMurray out of No. 1 next year

McMurray, 21st in points heading into the 25th annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was in need of a win in order to clinch a berth in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He wound up placing seventh, but was in position to strike for the win late running in the top three.

After starting 21st — since qualifying (and both practice sessions) were rained out — the 2010 Brickyard 400 winner and crew chief Matt McCall elected to employ a no-tire strategy on a late pit stop that put them in third place on Lap 145 of the 160-lap event. On the ensuring restart, an aggressive McMurray was all over the rear bumper of Clint Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford, but the contact allowed leader Denny Hamlin to pull further ahead.

Before McMurray could continue to battle and move up, a caution came out after Landon Cassill and Jeffrey Earnhardt crashed hard into the outside wall. The 42-year-old was unable to hold his ground on the final restart, getting shuffled back to seventh over the final few laps. While the result wasn’t enough to propel him to a fourth straight– and potentially final — playoff berth, it tied for his third-best finish of the season.

For now, McMurray’s future is uncertain beyond his 10 races lined up to end this season. Ganassi has reportedly offered his driver a seat in the ’19 season-opening Daytona 500 as well as a management position, but McMurray has yet to confirm the reports or offer an idea of what his future might hold.

A Chip Gansssi Racing spokesperson declined to comment further.

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