Though questioned by many, Ganassi's (left) decision to put McMurray in a Cup car paid off
SCR: Did your dad race when you were younger?
McMurray: My dad has raced since he was in high school. He did a lot of drag racing and stock car racing, just at the local level. When I became old enough to start racing, of course, I had a huge interest in it. My dad started racing go-carts with me and we did that together for a long time. He actually gave it up for a while and just let me race. But it's in his blood and he still races go-carts. He still goes and does that and has a great time at it. He just loves racing.
SCR: Talk about moving up to stock cars. Do you remember your first race?
McMurray: We went to Lakeland, Florida, in 1994. My dad had bought a pavement Modified, and I remember it was so much different, (but) I just felt like I had a knack for it. The thing is, to me, to be good at any form of racing there has to be a huge level of dedication and desire. There's a lot of frustration that goes along with racing. You have to look past that. I've been very frustrated at times, but at the same time, throughout all of my racing, I was very dedicated and always tried to stay very focused at whatever I was doing. That's what I did when I moved up from go-carts to stock cars. It was frustrating at first because it's so much different, and you go through a completely different learning curve. In go-carts-at least when I raced go-carts, although it's a lot different now-there weren't a lot of setups involved. You put tires on it and pretty much went out and raced it. Nowadays, they're so much different with setups and they scale them now and everything. When you move up to stock cars, there are springs and shocks and sway bars, so much stuff. So there was a lot to learn in that process.
SCR: How has your life changed since the fall of last year?
McMurray: A lot more interviews. Of course, getting a ride with a team such as Ganassi and having Havoline as your sponsor, a lot of people question why they hired me. They're all wanting to know that. It's just been a lot busier. It's a good busy, like I say, but it didn't change a lot when I got hired. It was going to be pretty mellow, just running Talladega and a couple of other races. But, really, it changed after the win. It's been pretty wild, just the people who recognize you. In all my years of racing I don't know that I've ever had anyone recognize me on an airplane, to just say "Good job." Also the crewmembers and stuff who came up and said, "Man, we were on the edge of our seats." I've had so many people tell me they had goose bumps or it brought a tear to their eye. I can't tell you the way that makes me feel inside, to have a grown man tell me, "Man, I was crying for you, Jamie. I'm so happy for you." That's a feeling that I don't know I'll ever get again.
SCR: Is there any part of sudden fame that you would rather not have to deal with?
McMurray: The thing is, like the interviews, maybe they are frustrating or aggravating because you have to do so many of them, but it's great to do interviews about positive stuff like this, versus doing interviews like a couple of months ago when they were asking me why Chip hired me. But I wouldn't change any of it. Every morning I wake up and I literally sit there and thank God for letting me feel as blessed as I feel right now. Like I say, I don't know what I did to deserve all this, because there are so many good race car drivers out there who never get the chance to keep moving up. And I don't know why I did. I don't know what I did different from those guys, because I don't feel like I did anything different. It's just an incredible situation that I got put into. Like I say, I don't know what I did to deserve it, but I'm certainly thankful for it.