Quick takeaways from Talladega: Jamie McMurray's pit decision was costly

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Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray are on the outside looking in after Talladega. (Getty)
Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray are on the outside looking in after Talladega. (Getty)

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• Jamie McMurray is 12th in the 12-driver playoff standings after he crashed out early at Talladega on Sunday.

McMurray got run into by Erik Jones after slowing in the middle of the track during a round of green flag pit stops in the first stage of Sunday’s race at Talladega. As other drivers to McMurray’s inside headed to pit road, he apparently thought the drivers nearest to him would be pitting as well.

They were not. Both Kyle Busch and Erik Jones were full-throttle into the tri-oval. Busch avoided McMurray. Jones did not.

(Via NBC)
(Via NBC)

“We wanted to pit a couple of laps earlier, and you’re somewhat dependent on the spotters to tell you when you’re going to pit,” McMurray said. “You assume everyone is working as a group. It was my fault. I assumed that they said the 18 was going to let me in, so I thought we were all going to pit. I didn’t even know where the 77 was. When I got on the brakes, I thought we were all coming to pit road as a group. I’ll take the blame for that.”

[Brad Keselowski wins at Talladega in race that featured three red flags for crashes]

You can make the argument that McMurray should have been a lot lower on the track whether Busch or Jones were pitting or not. He looked like a driver in the left lane of the highway who realized at the last second he had to exit and didn’t check his rear-view mirrors.

The punishment for the move is in the standings. McMurray is now 29 points out of the final spot in the third round and has three drivers between himself and eighth-place Jimmie Johnson. While McMurray has been one of the most consistent drivers in the Cup Series in 2017, he’s going to need a few drivers ahead of him to have some bad luck next week.

[Full results from Talladega]

• The first-win watch for Chase Elliott goes on. Elliott had one of the fastest cars in Sunday’s race but got taken out in a crash with less than 10 laps to go.

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“There was a hole and I filled it,” Elliott said. “I don’t guess Daniel [Suarez] either saw me in time or what it was just had a high rate of speed coming and he didn’t know or tried to block it I’m not sure.”

Because of the attrition during Sunday’s race, Elliott is 20 points ahead of Kyle Busch in ninth. He’s still got a decent shot at making the round of eight without a win.

• There were fewer than 10 competitive cars at the end of Sunday’s race thanks to all of the crashes. And a lot of that has to do with the repair limitations NASCAR mandated at the beginning of the season. Teams have just five minutes to get their cars fixed on pit road after a crash and are prohibited from adding body parts back to the car.

The rule hasn’t had much of an effect at intermediate tracks and places where aerodynamic efficiency is of the utmost importance. But it’s been noticeable at Daytona and Talladega.

Before the five-minute clock and the parts rule, teams would take multiple pit stops to tape parts back on their cars after being involved in big wrecks. That practice meant teams weren’t forced to retire after crashes if the engine was still working well and the car was driveable at plate tracks because of the power of the draft.

Now, notsomuch. There wouldn’t have been a 30-car field without the five-minute clock at the end of Sunday’s race. But there would have probably been at least six or seven more cars on the track (and racing for a top 10) than there were.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!