Jamie McMurray has received praise from his teammate and team owner after the official announcement that Kurt Busch would take over driving duties in the No. 1 Chevrolet.
McMurray has been offered a ride in the Daytona 500 by team owner Chip Ganassi, who said he does expect McMurray to stick around the organization.
“I think it starts off with sort of a storybook entrance to Cup back when Sterling [Marlin] got hurt [in 2002],” Ganassi said of McMurray’s impact and legacy. “Jamie came on [for the race one week later] at Talladega, he was running at the front, and we ran him out of gas, I remember. The next race was Charlotte, and he won. So, I think, when you have an entrance into the sport like that, put that down as your foundation and then building upon that with obviously two or three wins leading up to 2010 there, where he won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard in that sort of storybook year that the entire organization had, Jamie has got a nose for the front of the pack. He is the type of driver that wakes up when you can get him to the front.
“I want him to continue on with our organization, and I think in the coming weeks you will find that out. I think he is somebody that can take a lot of stock in any of the success that this team has or happens in the future. Jamie can take a lot of stock in that in helping bring a level of maturity to the organization when it was badly needed.”
McMurray had two different tenures behind the wheel at Ganassi. His Cup career started with six races in late 2002 when he substituted for Sterling Marlin, who fractured a vertebra in a crash in the September Kansas race. After his debut at Talladega the following week, McMurray won the next race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. McMurray was then full-time in the No. 42 from 2003-2005 and while he didn’t win a race during that time, McMurray earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2003.
After a stint at Roush Fenway Racing, McMurray returned to Ganassi in 2010 and won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 that same season. McMurray made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, 2015-17, and won four races between 2010 and 2018. McMurray’s most recent win was 2013 in the fall Talladega race.
“Jamie’s been huge to me,” said Kyle Larson, who joined the team in 2014. “He’s been really the only teammate I’ve ever had, true teammate, I feel like. In Xfinity you have teammates, but they’re not teammates that you look at where you’re going to spend the next five or so years with. So, Jamie’s been the only teammate I’ve had.”
Larson credited McMurray with being the best mentor he could have for a driver transitioning to stock cars. Larson made four starts in 2013 and then won Rookie of the Year honors in 2014. Larson finally broke through for his first win in 2016 and has been carrying the CGR banner since then.
“I’ve always been very grateful and thankful for everything he’s always taught me on the racetrack and probably more than anything, off the racetrack, especially when I became a father with Owen,” Larson continued. “There was always just a lot of things Jamie and I could talk about. Felt like becoming a father brought us closer than we were; that was really cool.
“He’s probably the funniest guy that I’ve ever met, really. I don’t think fans at home get to see how funny and his character come out on TV because he’s pretty reserved when it comes to being on TV, but in the lounge and stuff, he’s hilarious. We’ll miss having him around and all the laughs that he brought us. But very grateful that I’ve gotten to spend five years as a teammate with him.”