Running in the Rolex 24 at Daytona every year has its advantages for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers – particularly this year with the testing ban and fewer crossovers in the race — those who raced have received more attention.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray is one of those drivers. We spoke to McMurray at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test to outline his Sprint Cup goals in working with new crew chief Matt McCall.
But in the interim something changed, and the narrative about McMurray has centered more on what he accomplished at this year’s Rolex 24.
McMurray was a key cog in the overall winning lineup with Cup teammate Kyle Larson and CGR IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford.
McMurray joined two of the all-time greatest racers in Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt as the only drivers in history to have won the Daytona 500 and Rolex 24.
A week later, McMurray reflected on the accomplishment and its impact.
“To win last week was huge… growing up racing karts, my goals were to make it to NASCAR Winston Cup at the time, contend for wins and one day the championship,” McMurray said. “I never had the dream of winning the Rolex 24. But without driving for Chip and Felix, you don’t have the opportunity.
“Racing in it is big. It’s my favorite race. It’s one I look forward to because of the other bonding with drivers, the crews from Indy I don’t get to see. You get to hang out with drivers, and to win it is quite unbelievable.
“With two to three hours to go, I stood on side of pit box and realized it could happen. We had Scott Dixon in the car – I think the world of him – and he was the most talented guy on the track that weekend.”
Ganassi and minority team owner Felix Sabates both spoke highly of how McMurray has evolved and forecast their hopes and expectations for 2015.
“We saw Jamie last year win the All-Star Race,” Ganassi said. “That was pretty big. You’d have to call Jamie … a ‘big-game hunter.’ He wins all the big races.”
McMurray’s presence also has expanded into national ads. He’s been featured recently with LeBron James for a McDonald’s Monopoly game, and CGR president Steve Lauletta said McDonald’s is looking at another.