McMurray on Ambrose, Mears: “I wish NASCAR would just let it go”

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Count one driver not in favor of the penalties doled out to Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears on Tuesday by NASCAR: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray.

During a teleconference Wednesday, McMurray told reporters that in the heat of the moment, sometimes emotions come out charged up and lead to a situation where a punch in the garage could happen.

“Well, I hoped that NASCAR would just let that go,” he said. “They have preached to all of us that they want us to be who we are, and I think it’s good that you have some characters in the sport that ‑ I’m not calling Casey or Marcus out, but not everyone is willing to ‑ or is the type of guy that would punch someone, right? Everyone has a moment that they’re extremely upset, but I don’t think that ‑ I think you can count on one hand the guys that would actually throw a punch. Everyone is talking about it.”

But, he said, people are talking about it – and that’s the tell-all. Even when McMurray was in the midst of house construction.

“I’m building a house, and when I got up to the home site, that’s all the guys wanted to talk about was ‘Oh, my gosh, did you see that,’ and they wanted to know if I have any inside scoop. I think it’s great,” he said.

Given the now likelihood of a fine in such a situation, McMurray said this would reduce the likelihood of any further fisticuffs.

“I don’t know, I was really hoping that NASCAR was going to let it go or that the fines would be less because that’s a huge ‑ $25,000 is massive,” McMurray said. “My opinion of that is that you won’t see it happen again because I think people will think about that and be like, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth $25,000 for me to express exactly how I feel at this time.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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