MCMURRAY ENJOYS BEING CLOSE TO HOME
NASCAR’s McMurray enjoys the benefits of being close to home
McMurray gets the chance to fish and hunt, and hang out with his family this week.
April 18, 2012
Every time NASCAR rolls into Kansas Speedway, the names Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer dominate the headlines.
And for good reason. Bowyer grew up just down the road in Emporia, Kan., and honed his skills on the dirt track at nearby Lakeside Speedway. Edwards is from Columbia, two hours from Kansas Speedway and developed his skills on short tracks in central Missouri.
But what about Jamie McMurray of Joplin, Mo.? Kansas Speedway doesn’t seem to be associated with McMurray, a former Daytona 500 winner, as his home track as it does with Bowyer and Edwards.
“I guess I don’t make as big a deal out of it as Carl and Clint do,” McMurray said with a wry smile.
That doesn’t mean McMurray doesn’t want to win Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway any less than Bowyer or Edwards.
“It would be cool to win there because Bass Pro Shops is headquartered in Springfield, Mo.,” McMurray said of his primary sponsor of his No. 1 Chevrolet.
McMurray, 35, has not won a Sprint Cup race since the fall 2010 race at Charlotte , N.C., in a year that included his Daytona 500 victory as well as the Brickyard 400, giving him wins in three of NASCAR’s most prestigious races. In fact, after he missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2010 because of some poor finishes, NASCAR created two wild cards for the Chase beginning in 2011 that could reward someone with multiple wins like McMurray had in 2010.
But McMurray and Ganassi Racing teammate Juan Pablo Montoya struggled last year. McMurray finished 27th in the standings, with just four top-10 finishes, his fewest in nine fulltime seasons. Montoya finished 21st with eight top-10 finishes, his fewest since 2008.
Through seven starts this season, McMurray is 23rd after finishing 14th last week at Texas. Montoya is 18th.
“We ran really good at Bristol and Vegas,” McMurray said of his two top-10 finishes this season, “and we had a pretty good car at Phoenix. But we broke an engine. … And we ran good at California but had a nightmare in the pits and couldn’t get the lug nuts on. … We’ve had good cars … they’ve been a lot better this year, but we had a couple of issues.”
McMurray hasn’t been particularly strong at Kansas Speedway. He was 29th last year in the spring race and 22nd in the fall. His best performance was a seventh-place run in 2004 when McMurray led 19 laps.
But racing isn’t necessarily the high point of McMurray’s trips to Kansas Speedway. McMurray spent Tuesday and Wednesday fishing at Bass Pro Shops’ farm in Calhoun, Mo., and will go turkey hunting today.
“One of the highlights of my year is getting to go there,” McMurray said. “My dad is going to go with me. (Bass Pro Shops founder) Johnny Morris is really big on family and spending time with your son or with your dad.
“It’s really cool because Johnny’s boy, John Paul, is there. And I get to take my dad. It’s not just about the fishing and hunting together. It’s going back to the cabin afterward and cooking the fish or cooking the turkey … and hanging out and just being with your family.
“It’s a really special moment I look forward to twice a year.”
Last year before the spring race at Kansas Speedway, McMurray spent some time in Joplin helping with the relief effort shortly after the city — and his home — were destroyed by a powerful tornado. But he didn’t make it there this time.
“My mom was just there a few weeks ago, and she gave me an update on what’s going on there,” he said. “It looks like it’s coming along well.”