DAYTONA A BUSY TIME FOR MCMURRAY
Jamie McMurray heads into a busy two months of on-track action at Daytona International Speedway with one victory already under his belt.
McMurray capped off 2011 by winning last Friday's TAG 2 final race during World Karting Association Kartweek at DIS in a kart he designed himself with the help of Jason Anderson at the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. machine shop.
"I grew up racing karts and I got out of it for a long time and my dad got me back into it," McMurray said. "I kind of took on the project a few years ago of wanting to do my own kart and be a part of building every piece. It was cool to be able to win with a kart I built."
Not only was McMurray able to get the win with his JMK chassis, but the annual trip lets him get the chance to see some up and coming racers compete.
"My biggest thrill out of going down there is the kids," McMurray said. "It's so cool to watch the little junior races and see how disciplined an eight to 12-year-old can be on a kart. I really enjoy being able to get to watch those races."
With Kartweek now in the rear view mirror, McMurray will now focus his attention to Grand-Am and NASCAR Sprint Cup testing, respectively, for the season opening Rolex 24 and Daytona 500.
After finishing second last year in the Rolex 24 with teammates Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, McMurray will once again partner with the trio of drivers behind the wheel of the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley.
"Its new cars this year," McMurray said heading into this weekend's Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session. "They have changed the body work a little bit and they are all brand new cars for us. It will interesting to see how the new cars run. Ganassi, his organization just really has done incredible and has a chance to win every year. I'm really excited about getting to go down there and do that."
A potential victory would add to McMurray's resume of big wins that include the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.
This year will mark McMurray's fourth career start in the prestigious twice around the clock race, one that takes a different mindset from his regular job of driving the No. 1 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series.
"It's different sharing a car with somebody, but you drive really hard," McMurray said. "You get your two-hour stint in the car, or one hour, and you drive as hard as you can. You don't run the car off the track, but you push really hard. It's easy to do your first couple of stints, but when you get in the car at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning it becomes more challenging. A lot of times at Daytona the fog rolls in and I remember last year being in the car and spent almost an hour under caution because of the amount of fog that rolled in. There are lots of challenges that come with that race. Man, it takes a week to get over how tired you are after that event."
In between Rolex testing and the running of the 24-hour race, McMurray will test his Sprint Cup car at Daytona. The Preseason Thunder test session will give McMurray and his fellow competitors the chance to run the new rules package that NASCAR announced in hopes of breaking up the tandem drafting on restrictor-plate tracks.
"I'm with NASCAR and the fans, I hope we can break that up," McMurray said. “I think it's going to be really tough to get rid of that, but they have made some drastic changes. But we won't know until we get down there. I hope we are able to break the pack up, or at least get the pack back where it's not just two cars. That was really fun for a few races, but it got old after a while and I hope they are able to break it up."