Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jamie McMurray hadn't been to victory
lane in the Sprint Cup Series in three years, but after winning Sunday's race
at Talladega Superspeedway, his emotions got the best of him.
Though it wasn't a typical Talladega race that features one or more major
accidents - "the big one" - it did end under caution after Austin Dillon and
Casey Mears wrecked on the backstretch during the final lap. McMurray was
leading, just ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., when the caution flag was
While celebrating in victory lane for the first time since Oct. 16, 2010 at
Charlotte (109 races ago), McMurray got teary-eyed when his 2-year-old son,
Carter, came up and hugged him during his post-race interview with ESPN. His
wife, Christy, gave birth to their daughter, Hazel, in February.
"For me, the best part of this is, and I told Christy before, that it would be
so cool to have your kids in victory lane, so it's pretty awesome," McMurray
McMurray now has seven victories in NASCAR's premier series, but some of them
have been heartfelt wins, particularly in the 2010 Daytona 500. It was his
first start with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates after spending
the previous four years with Roush Fenway Racing.
The night before Talladega, team owner Chip Ganassi won the 2013 IndyCar
Series championship after Scott Dixon drove to a fifth-place finish in the
season finale in Fontana, Calif. Ganassi, who was still in Southern
California, gave McMurray a congratulatory phone call immediately following
"Chip won the IndyCar championship (Saturday), so it's been a good day,"
McMurray did not make it into this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup
championship, but his win at Talladega moved him up one spot to 14th in the
point standings, which is the top position for the non-Chase drivers.
"It's important for the whole organization," McMurray said. "Chip and Felix
have made a really big financial commitment to our team. The switch to the
Hendrick engines was not even par with the ECR engines. It was a big financial
tax on the team, and I think it's made our cars better. Our cars have
definitely been better this year, but getting to victory lane, really doesn't
matter what track, it definitely is a momentum builder for our whole
McMurray made his Cup debut at Talladega on Oct. 6, 2002. Ganassi had selected
him as the substitute driver for Sterling Marlin after Marlin suffered a neck
injury during a crash at Kansas. One week after Talladega, McMurray pulled off
a stunning win at Charlotte.
Two months ago, McMurray extended his contract with EGR as driver of the No. 1
Chevrolet. He will team with and serve as mentor to Kyle Larson, who will take
over Juan Pablo Montoya's seat in the No. 42 car at the start of next season.
EGR has put a lot of investment into its two Sprint Cup teams this year, in
hopes of being a championship contender in the future. The racing organization
has been in the Chase only once (Montoya in 2009).
"I think we've had a lot of opportunities to win this year, but we've had some
bad luck," Sabates said. "If you look at all our races this year, some it's
our fault that we lost, but some of the races we just got caught in accidents
that weren't our fault.
"I'm excited about next year, but I'm more excited about the next four races
because we have our own Chase. The guy that finishes first out of the Chase
gets a huge bonus, and that could help a lot of the expenses we had this year
if Jamie finishes the first guy out of the Chase."
After McMurray has scored the victory in the fourth and final restrictor plate
race this season, the series heads to Martinsville, the shortest track on the
series schedule, this coming weekend.
"Plate tracks are probably my best tracks, and Martinsville is probably my
next best," McMurray said. "This is a great place to be able to win at to take
not only my confidence but everybody else within our group to that track
(Martinsville), where I feel we'll run really well."
The Sports Network