<
>

McMurray free to look for new ride

7/26/2009 - NASCAR

INDIANAPOLIS -- Roush Fenway Racing has informed Jamie McMurray he is free to talk to other organizations about next season, team president Geoff Smith said on Sunday.

But Smith said that is not an indication Roush doesn't want the driver of the No. 26 associated with the organization in 2010.

Smith said Roush is willing to move any of its five drivers with sponsorship to partner Yates Racing next season if that would maintain the current Ford stable.

He said most of the drivers are willing to do that, understanding they will be in the same equipment with the same technology. The problem is convincing sponsors to move to what is perceived as the "B'' team. UPS, for example, is committed to keeping David Ragan at Roush.

"It's not moving apples to apples,'' Smith said from the garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR has mandated that Roush be at the four-car cap by 2010. Roush currently has five drivers, McMurray, Ragan, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.

Although Edwards, Kenseth and Biffle signed extensions last season, Smith is not opposed to moving one if that keeps all within the Roush/Yates umbrella.

"We would be open to any combination to keep them,'' he said.

McMurray is considered the most likely to be moved because his contract expires after this season. Smith said it did not make sense in this economic climate to re-sign him to a long-term deal without sponsorship commitment.

Crown Royal, which sponsors a portion of races on McMurray's car, has two years left on its contract. Smith didn't rule out that could be moved to Kenseth's car if necessary.

Roush announced earlier this week that DeWalt, Kenseth's long-term sponsor, will not return in 2010. Smith said sponsorship for that car would be cleared up soon.

McMurray avoided conversations with the media on Friday and Saturday. He reportedly has been contacted by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as a candidate to fill the spot being vacated by Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 1.

McMurray drove for Ganassi before moving to Roush after the 2005 season.

"We took a risk on losing Jamie when we made the decision not to re-sign him,'' Smith said. "It's been clear he's free to look around even though we've told him we want him. It's just hard to do right now.''

Smith said Roush and Yates would like to keep a combination of at least seven cars, preferably eight, for next season.

"No matter what Jamie decides to do, we still would like to have the same employment number,'' he said.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.