© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2003
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- Jamie McMurray led all but five of 197 laps Monday to run away with the rain-delayed Busch Grand National race at North Carolina Speedway.
McMurray started second, passed pole-sitter David Green on the backstretch of the first lap, and steadily pulled away from the field to beat him to the finish line by almost 20 car lengths.
"I feel very blessed to get in a car that is that good because you have to have a great car to have a performance like that," he said. "It's unreal to have a car that good."
McMurray lost the top spot just once, when fellow Winston Cup driver Michael Waltrip passed him on Lap 164. But caution came out seconds later, all the leaders stopped for tires, and McMurray beat Waltrip out of the pits.
Kerry Earnhardt did not pit and took over the lead, but McMurray sailed by him after the restart and was never challenged.
Todd Bodine finished third after a door-to-door battle with Green over the final lap in the only real race to the finish.
Green, coincidentally, is driving the car and using the team that McMurray gave up when Chip Ganassi hired the then-unknown driver for a Winston Cup ride.
"I am using all of Jamie's old guys, so we're developing a little bit of a rivalry," Green said.
It was the second straight win at Rockingham for McMurray, who inherited the victory here in November when the leaders wrecked in front of him and he sailed by for the win.
His dominating run in the Busch race, rained out on Saturday, followed his fifth-place finish in Sunday's Winston Cup race.
"It was so fast at the beginning on long runs and short runs," McMurray said. "I was almost scared to do anything because it was so good and you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot over making a good car bad."
SKYDIVERS UPDATE: Three military skydivers injured during before Sunday's NASCAR race were released from hospitals.
Col. Leonard H. Kiser, a senior Army National Guard adviser for the Army's Special Operations Command, remained in good condition at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, hospital spokesman Scott White said. Sgt. 1st Class Stuart J. Goodall, Maj. Anthony C. Dill and Air Force Capt. Jesse L. Peterson were released from Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center and FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.
Four other jumpers from the Army Special Operations Command Parachute team, the Black Daggers, were uninjured during their low-altitude jump.
Winds of up to 40 mph blew the parachutists off their landing target on the track. The injured jumpers bounced off tractor-trailers and landed hard on the track's asphalt.