Daytona 500: Jamie McMurray Media Day interview

JAMIE MCMURRAY -- No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion HOW WAS JURY DUTY? "Jury duty was life-changing. I told my girlfriend and she just kind of looked at me with a dazed look and I'm like, 'You just don't understand.' The case that I was on was...

JAMIE MCMURRAY -- No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion

HOW WAS JURY DUTY? "Jury duty was life-changing. I told my girlfriend and she just kind of looked at me with a dazed look and I'm like, 'You just don't understand.' The case that I was on was very intense and I woke up this morning thinking about it because it was just an incredible case. It's incredible to me that they put 12 people in charge of someone's life or someone's future, but I was a part of that. We went into the room afterwards to decide whether he would be guilty or not guilty and we were sitting around and there was a first-grade school teacher, there was a truck driver, there was a dairy farmer. It's incredible with the people that were in there because it was almost like a movie. I watched the movie The Runaway Jury and as I'm really living this I'm like, 'This really is like what happened,' but you're actually in charge of someone's future. I wouldn't trade it, but I don't want to go back. If I ever get put back in that, I'll tell them I don't want to do it because I didn't realize how intense that was going to be. You certainly pay a lot of attention. It was for four days. If it was a civil case, I probably would do it, but being a criminal case, I'll never do that again."

TELL US ABOUT THE CASE? "The case consisted of a grown man who was accused of assaulting a 10-year-old girl at the time, so you can imagine. The testimony was, I don't know, touching. It's just stuff that you read about or see on TV that you don't ever think you're going to experience or be a part of, so it was just super-intense."

YOU WERE THE FOREMAN? "I tell you what, I'm on the jury and there were 11 women and me. When the attorneys were done we went into the room to decide and there were only two restrooms -- a guy's and a girl's. So I was trying to be considerate and I let all the girls kind of use the guy's room, so I went last. So I went into the restroom and when I came out they said, 'You're the foreman.' I was like, 'OK, I guess I'll be the foreman then.' That's incredible to see how all of that works."

CAN YOU COMPARE THE JURY ROOM TO THE INTENSITY OF THE TRACK? "Well, it's two different things. When you race and it's intense, it's fun. That's what you live for and that's what you wake up for every single day. No one wakes up and asks to be put in that situation of being on a jury and on a case like that."

HOW DID IT TURN OUT? "The guy was actually found not guilty. When I was selected as jury foreman I thought, 'I'm gonna have to read whatever we decide,' and you don't know if there's gonna be sighs or cheers. You don't know what's gonna happen from each side, and I was fortunate that the clerk actually read the verdict of the case, so I didn't have to go through that. But you never know what the emotions are going to be in something like that."

IT'S A SERIOUS CASE AND A SERIOUS ISSUE, BUT DID ANY OF YOUR FELLOW JURORS ASK FOR YOUR AUTOGRAPH? "We were in the room the very first day and they ask you what you do and can you be here for so many days. I told the prosecutor. I said, 'Look, I'll give you all I have until Friday, but I'm leaving Sunday to go to Las Vegas to test. I'm gonna miss media day if I do this, but I can miss that because that's not going to alter my career. If I miss testing in Las Vegas, that could be big. I'll give you all I have until then.' So they found out I was a race car driver and everyone kind of giggled in the courtroom. So it was the second day and we got ready to go to lunch. They let the jury leave first to exit for lunch, so I had to use the restroom. We left and I went to the restroom, I washed my hands, and when I came out the little girl's father was standing outside with her and I don't know if he didn't know at the time who I was, but it kind of hit him when we got outside and he's like, 'Do you know who that is?' And he's like, 'It's Jamie McMurray.' This was in Statesville, North Carolina so it's all NASCAR country and he was like, 'Can I have your autograph?' And I'm thinking, 'I can't talk to you. You don't understand.' So I said, 'I don't have a pen,' because I really didn't. And I said, 'Maybe when I get back we'll do this.' So when we got back from lunch, the jury is in a separate room waiting to go into the courtroom and the judge calls me in and says, 'Did you talk with one of the people on the prosecutor's side?' And I'm like, 'Well, it wasn't really talking,' so I explained the whole story to her and she was like 'OK.' They asked if that was going to affect my decision and I was like, 'No.' But a couple people on the jury brought some Crown Royal bottles in and asked me to sign, but, I tell you what, it was really neat because I was in a room and I was a normal person. Even though they wanted me to sign stuff I was a normal person and people didn't really talk about it. Yet, you're with a group of people that all have different occupations and it was nice to just sit there and listen to their stories and hear them talk about their families. It was a good experience."

WOULD YOU RATHER DO JURY DUTY OR MEDIA DAY? "I'll do media day next year. I'll gladly do media day."

YOU PROBABLY DON'T GET TO FEEL LIKE A NORMAL PERSON OFTEN. "I don't think anyone wants to be a normal person. This is a pretty grand life. It's not like you want to trade it, but it's different and it's unique to be able to sit in on something like that and be treated normal."

YOU LEARNED A LOT ABOUT THE LEGAL SYSTEM? "I did. Everyone has somewhat of an idea of how the judicial system works, but I think until you actually sit through it and you watch the emotions from both sides. For me, I've watched Perry Mason or other shows that have been on forever and it's kind of like that but it's not. I think until you deal with the intensity that goes along with it, it's just hard to explain."

SO IT WASN'T LIKE MY COUSIN VINNY? "It wasn't anything like My Cousin Vinny."

SO THEY WENT THROUGH A BUNCH OF PEOPLE? "I don't know exactly how many people. They took half the people and they let them go immediately. You were either in group A or group B and they let group A go immediately because they were supposed to be on a civil case. In that civil case they came to a decision over the weekend, so the criminal case was gonna go ahead and go to trial, and they chose 12 people. They weed out the ones they don't want and I was like the seventh or eighth alternate. Of course when I got up there I didn't have any history of anything. I was like, 'Man, I'm just the most normal guy that you guys could get because I'm not biased and I have no opinion of anything.'"

SO IT ENDED ON A FRIDAY? "Monday was Martin Luther King Day and we went in Tuesday and they selected, and then we were in court Wednesday, Thursday and then finished up about 6 o'clock Friday night."

WAS THAT GOOD TRAINING FOR A LONG SEASON? "It's something that I've never been on a jury and I'm 31 now and I think it's good for people to go do that because it just makes you see how the world works. I never complain about taxes. I'm not a guy that ever complains about that because I've been to Moscow and I've been to Mexico City and I've seen the way other countries are and we've got it pretty good here."

HOW WAS JACK ABOUT YOU MISSING MEDIA DAY? "I don't know that we ever even talked about it. I think Jack understands that it's part of being a U.S. citizen."

HOW DO YOU VIEW THE RACE ON SATURDAY? "The Shootout is somewhat like the All-Star race, it's a fairly wild event. I've been in it a couple of times and it's a lot of fun. It's miserable to have to sit in your motorhome or go up to a suite and watch it when you know you could be out there racing, so it's pretty exciting to get to be a part of it."

DOES IT HELP TO HAVE THE SHOOTOUT WITH THIS NEW CAR BEFORE THE 500 TO GET SOME EXPERIENCE WITH IT ON THE TRACK? "I think so. It probably prepares you more for the 150 because you haven't raced in so long. Even though we went and tested, it's not the same things as being in a group of cars. When we tested here, there were maybe only eight or 10 cars in a pack, so I think to be able to get out there with 20 cars -- it's a perfect pack because it's not too large. It's a fun race."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jamie McMurray