McMurray enjoying life in the spotlight

When Jamie McMurray raced on the Cup scene in 2002 no one could have predicted that he would emerge this season as one of NASCAR's brightest stars. A winning personality combined with devilish good looks has made McMurray one of the sports most ...

When Jamie McMurray raced on the Cup scene in 2002 no one could have predicted that he would emerge this season as one of NASCAR's brightest stars. A winning personality combined with devilish good looks has made McMurray one of the sports most marketable drivers.

And not just race fans are noticing McMurray.

Hollywood has come to call on the 28-year-old Joplin, Missouri native. McMurray has made appearances on "The West Wing", "The E True Hollywood Story" and will appear on the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" next week with teammate Casey Mears.

While some driver's shy from the spotlight - McMurray is relishing every minute of his new found celebrity.

"I really felt like last year we didn't get to do any of that stuff," said McMurray. "They just started using me and it's pretty exciting that they are."

Ever since McMurray grabbed the attention of the NASCAR nation by winning in his second Cup start while warming the No. 40 Dodge seat for the injured Sterling Marlin two years ago, he has been hailed as one of NASCAR's future champions.

High expectations in his rookie season tarnished his star but in 2004 McMurray burned red-hot. He racked up 23 top-10 finishes last season and if not for the 'chase for the championship' would have ended the year solidly in the top ten.

A bout of bad luck that included several accidents, engine failures, a confiscated car and resulting points dock sunk McMurray into an unrecoverable point deficit that kept him out of the chase. However, in those last ten events McMurray nailed five top-10 results and never finished worse than 29th.

The late season charge gained the No. 42 Dodge driver 11th place in year end standings and a place on the stage at the inaugural Nextel Cup banquet in New York.

This year Team 42 hopes to build on the momentum they started last season and be championship contenders in 2005.

"If we don't finish (the season) in the top five," said McMurray. "It's going to be a disappointment for us."

McMurray welcomes the chance to shine on track and on screen this year.

"I am myself," said McMurray. "I am never something that I am not. They like me because I am that way and I don't try and be something that I am not."

Be part of something big

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Sterling Marlin , Casey Mears , Jamie McMurray