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Jamie McMurray wins NASCAR’s “Best in class” Sunday in Dover

Sep 30, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Jamie McMurray had a great start in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol, climbing to second place before rain brought out a race-stopping red flag 124 laps into the scheduled 500-lap event. Getty Images

Sunday’s third race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2013 Chase for the Cup featured 10 of the 13 Chase contenders sweeping the top 10 in a single race. That’s the first time this has happened in a race since the Chase’s inception in 2004.

In 11th place on Sunday was Jamie McMurray of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, de facto “first in class” among the almost forgotten rest of the field.

McMurray has only three top-fives and seven top-10 finishes this season, but is also first among those who missed the Chase in the points standings. Those seven top-10s are the same number as he had combined in 2011 and 2012. And while 14th isn’t anything to write home about, it’s a decent recovery after finishes of 21st and 27th in the points the last two years since his breakout 2010 campaign.

A solid run of races for the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet can also lay the groundwork for a potential Chase berth in 2014. McMurray will have a new teammate at his disposal next year, with Juan Pablo Montoya‘s exit to IndyCar and the arrival of Kyle Larson in the No. 42 car.