BioName: Jamie McMurray
Hometown: Joplin, Missouri
Resides: Huntersville, North Carolina
Marital Status: Single
Racing Involvement: Driver for Chip Ganassi Racing Winston Cup team in 2003; winner of UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 13, 2002, in just second Winston Cup start; Busch Series competitor, 2001-2002, getting his first Busch win at Atlanta in 2002; full-time competitor in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, 2000; track champion at Lebanon (Missouri) I-44 Speedway in 1997.
He dreamed of being a Winston Cup driver, but not in his wildest fantasies did Jamie McMurray expect to find himself in Victory Lane during the 2002 season. He's been pinched enough to know the win was real; now he speaks with Stock Car Racing about the reality check that will come when he moves to the series full time in 2003.
SCR: Talk about everything that happened to you in the latter part of 2002, getting the Winston Cup offer from Chip Ganassi and winning at Lowe's Motor Speedway while subbing for Sterling Marlin.
McMurray: It's all happened so fast. I didn't really know what I was going to do next season. I really wanted to stay with my Busch team. I told them I was going to as long as a great opportunity didn't come along to move on to Cup. When Chip contacted me about doing that for 2003, I couldn't imagine a better opportunity coming along in Winston Cup. I feel like they have just about the best organization there is. So I made the decision to move up and was really excited and trying to get prepared for that. Then when Sterling got hurt and they told me I was going to fill in for him the rest of the season, I knew that was a tough situation to step into, but it was going to be a good opportunity for me. At the same time, it could work both ways. If I had gotten into that and done well, it was going to be great for next season. If I had gotten in it and not done well, it would have been a tough winter for me, for the team, and also for the sponsor.
SCR: Take us through the last laps of the win at Charlotte. What were you saying to your crew?
McMurray: I had joked around with Lee (McCall, crew chief) and Tony (Glover, team manager) and all the guys throughout the whole race, trying to make jokes, and they were doing the same thing with me. But about the last 60 laps I didn't say anything on the radio. I think the only thing I said was after my last green flag stop, about 10 laps into that, when I said my car was really starting to get good. Tire pressure was really building up. They were pretty much just saying, "Hit your marks. Stay focused." They were counting laps down and just cheering me on, building my confidence up. I didn't say anything until the last lap down the backstretch. I just started screaming; I was real excited. It's a feeling I'll never forget. It was more exciting two weeks later than it was at the time. At the time, I couldn't take it all in. Later I realized what we did. You read all the stuff on the Internet and all the letters that people sent congratulating me, and it was incredible, just the response I got.
SCR: That was one helluva burnout after the win. Had you been practicing?
McMurray: No. I had never done a burnout before. I told my family and my girlfriend and everybody, when I get to do a burnout I'm going to do a great one. That was Fourth gear as fast as it would go. That was tached out in Fourth gear. That was cool. To be able to get in the car at a racetrack that I didn't care for and be able to go out and win was amazing.