NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray Talks Joplin, Mo & Getting Ready for Coca-Cola 600

McMurray is from Joplin, Missouri which isn’t too far from where I stay in Saint Louis, Missouri, The area was hit with devastating tornadoes this time last year.

So, McMurray has a little extra incentive to do well in the race this weeked in Charlotte.

He spoke a little bit about the race and his hometown.

Q. How much has helping the people of Joplin or other charities helped your racing career.

JAMIE McMURRAY: I don’t know that helping anyone has helped my career at all, but, I don’t know, I think that you that you get in a position where you can give back or you can use TV cameras and all of the exposure that we have in NASCAR for the better. I think that that’s the most important time to use those tools.

When I came back to Joplin, I came back more than anything because I wanted to see it. And then, you know, there was so many media people that wanted to come with me and that it brought a lot of exposure and Bass Pro Shops wanted to get involved and wanted to help raise money to give back.

I think it’s maybe the other way; maybe getting to be at a type of racing at the level that I’m at, you have access to so much media to get exposure and help raise money, that it maybe works the other way.
Q. How surprised were you by the number of fans and media and drivers that stepped in to help?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, the racing community is pretty small. Whether it’s with media, or the drivers, it seems like everybody wants to help others out. The whole thing with Joplin was that that wasn’t just — that was mainstream media. It was just devastating that it happened just a few weeks after the Tuscaloosa tornado.

Yeah, I think that’s just part of NASCAR and everyone seems to have a big heart and wanting to give back. Yeah, I think that’s a no-brainer for those guys to want to help with that.

Q. Talking about Charlotte, does that help when you guys are working to make big strides that now you come to a track where you really know what you want and the feel that you want?

JAMIE McMURRAY: For sure, because you do go to some tracks that you don’t run well at you and don’t know what you’re looking for or if you’re driving in the track just right.

But Charlotte has always been really good for me, and I seem to be much more critical of the cars when we get there, because you kind of know what you want it to do.

So, yeah, I mean, absolutely. It’s great that we get to have two weeks here, also, because we got to have the All-Star Race and then kind of analyze our issues and then go back and work on them this week and then comeback for the 600.

So it’s a great place to feel comfortable at because we get to run there so much.

Q. Does it seem like it’s been ten years since your first win at Charlotte?

JAMIE McMURRAY: No. Honestly, I always watch all of the races back before we go. Like I’ll watch the 600 back from last year just to see if there’s anything that you can pick up on, whether it’s pit road speeding penalties or just what the track did from day to night.

I stumbled across, actually, on YouTube, the 2002 win, and I watched a little bit of it just out of curiosity, and when you look back and they interviewed Jimmie and Ryan Newman and some of the guys and then you see the names of Rusty was still in the field and Bill Elliott, I looked back at that and I actually paused it and took it to Kristy and I was like, you’ve got to look at this and look how young everybody looked.

Makes me feel very old today. It’s been a long time. I feel really lucky that I’ve got to do this this long, but it’s been a long time for sure.

Q. What’s the difference between the champion Jamie McMurray in 2002 and the Jamie McMurray of 2012? What’s the main difference in you as a driver?

JAMIE McMURRAY: Certainly seem much more educated but you still make mistakes, make not the same mistakes but there are still things that you can do better.

When I looked back at that, though, I couldn’t believe just first off that they were doing the pit road speed by a stopwatch and timing lines. There was no electronic timing. Watching the guys do green flag pit stops, it’s just so much more advanced now and so much faster. As a driver, I don’t know, gosh, it doesn’t seem that long ago until I look back at the pictures and I see how young everybody looked.