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McMurray forced to backup car for 500 after crash

February 12, 2011, Dave Rodman,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Defending Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray will race a backup car in defense of his title after crashing his primary Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Saturday in pre-qualifying practice at Daytona International Speedway.

McMurray ran six laps and was 21st on the first practice time sheet with his primary car, a brand-new chassis that his team had used for all its Daytona testing in December and January. He crashed on his sixth lap of the second practice when a tire deflated, placing him 41st of 49 cars in the second session.

"It looked like we ran over something on the race track and that's what cut the tire down," McMurray said. "Fortunately though, you're on your first lap so high that we were right against the wall and it did minimal damage to the car. But they'll still have to take it home and put a new side on it and get it fixed-up. It's not tore up near as bad as it could be."

On Sunday afternoon, McMurray will now qualify the same car with which he finished second to race winner Kevin Harvick last April at Talladega Superspeedway.

McMurray's car chief Gary Putnam said his team would use its Budweiser Shootout car as its Daytona 500 backup if that car, which finished third in last year's Shootout, finished Saturday night's special event intact.

"We've done everything we can to strip the crashed car while it's still here," Putnam said. "[Saturday] night, after the Shootout we'll put it on the truck to take it back to the shop [in North Carolina]."

Putnam said EGR's home crew would put the wreck on a chassis jig Sunday and determine if the chassis clips were straight -- and either replace them if they were deformed, or have the car ready for the fabrication and body shop Monday morning.

"They'll have that car back here by Thursday," Putnam said. "We had to do the same thing with another car last year and it was hurt worse than [Saturday's wreck] was."

Daytona 500: Practice 1 | Practice 2