By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
As NASCAR sees another changing of the guard, Jamie McMurray has become one of the elder statesmen of the series. McMurray, who enters the 2018 season at 41-years-old, is now one of the oldest drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but he has no plans on slowing down anytime soon.
McMurray burst onto the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series scene in 2002 when he snatched a victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway while filling-in for Sterling Marlin. Since then, he has competed full-time for both Chip Ganassi Racing and Roush Fenway Racing. Despite having just seven victories in NASCAR’s Premier Series, McMurray has won on NASCAR’s biggest stages, winning the 2010 Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, and Bank of America 500. His best points finish to date was 11th in 2004.
In addition to those seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories, McMurray has 61 top-five finishes in 546 career starts. He also has 160 top-10s and 11 pole positions. McMurray also has 187 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. There he has eight victories, 31 top-fives, 68 top-10s, and three pole positions.
McMurray also is one of 29 drivers to have a victory in all three of NASCAR’s National Series. He was just the eighth driver to accomplish this feat when he scored a victory in the then-NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway in 2004.
In the past three years, drivers such as Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, and Tony Stewart have stepped away from competing full-time. For some, Edwards, Earnhardt, Gordon, and Stewart, they were able to retire on their own terms. However, Biffle and Kenseth ran into a lack of sponsorship, a lack of competitive rides, and younger, more well-funded drivers poised to take their place.
“When I view that I think my goal is to go out on my own,” McMurray stated about his future. “I think I remember Carl saying the same thing. It’s kind of sad that Matt’s not going to be there this year. Same thing with Dale Jr. but it doesn’t hit home with me quite as much because I wasn’t real close with him. Biffle was, back at the days at Roush, Matt, Greg, and I were really tight, our families, everybody. I still see Greg at school two, three days a week when we pick our kids up. I mean, it’s sad, you see a group of guys that you raced with and they are slowly retiring.”
McMurray wouldn’t put a number on when he would retire. Instead, he commented,
“The way I view that is that you do it (compete) as long as you feel like your competitive. I work harder now than I ever have at all the small things to be a better driver. I’m certainly more physically fit than I ever have my whole life. I don’t even think about retirement. What makes me think about it is when I run into my friends.”
With McMurray’s mind focused on the tasks at hand, he has less than a month until cars hit the track for the season-opening Daytona 500.