There's an old adage about a difference that a day makes, but there ought to be one about the difference a year makes, especially for Jamie McMurray.
A year ago, he was rejuvenating his stock car career, as he captured the Daytona 500 and honed himself a racer who rose to the occasion in some of NASCAR's biggest stages.
He'd capture the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, which made him only the third driver to capture both of motorsports' top American oval races in a year.
While he missed the Chase, there were still races to be won and once again, the driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/McDonald's Chevrolet found himself standing tall at a crown jewel of NASCAR - Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Capturing the fall 500-miler at the famed Concord, NC track, it seemed like the Joplin, MO native would be a solid choice for the 2011 Chase field.
With three wins, nine top-fives, 12 top-10's, and four poles, there were more reasons that one to believe that the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates racer would find success this season.
However, it's been a difficult year for this fledgling operation, as they currently sit 28th in the points standings after 19 races. With their Chase bids realistically over, it's now about making the rest of this season as one that's respectable and strong.
"Last year we had this unbelievable season and this year, it's like the exact opposite," said McMurrayper a WVLT report. "Certainly with NASCAR, you can win the Daytona 500 one week, and then struggle the very next week."
McMurray took note of how some of the changes over the off-season have thrown his No. 1 team for a loop in 2011.
"The tires have been a huge issue for us this year and we just have to figure it out," McMurray said. Additionally, he and crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion have dealt with the new front-ends of their Chevrolet Impala fleet, which lack the "braces" along the front splitter.
In addition to that change, the 35-year-old Cup veteran mentioned how he and his team need to build momentum during the race weekend in terms of getting their cars faster during practice sessions.
More than having faster cars, perhaps the biggest aspect to McMurray's races that needs to change is his luck - which well, isn't something he can totally control. Sure, he can certainly put himself in a position to win each week, but racing is a game of mere seconds and inches.
That kind of competitiveness in motorsports makes the margin for error even more minuscule, which could mean the difference between clear sailing or finding yourself impacting another car or the outside retaining wall.
If there's any solace to a season of struggles for McMurray, it's the fact that most of the remaining races on the Cup tour have already been visited. Having accumulated a weekend's full of notes from those tracks, they can apply what they've learned to make the best of the remaining 17 races.
Coming up next on the circuit is Indianapolis, the site of one of McMurray's pinnacle moments as aNASCAR racer. There'd be no greater redemption or saving graces for the No. 1 team's season other than to win at "The Brickyard."
Then again, did you figure he'd win last year's 400-miler as well?