McMurray - Saturday Charlotte Media Visit

Charlotte Motor Speedway

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS met with media and discussed the devastation of his hometown, Joplin, MO, and more.

ON HELPING VICTIMS OF TORNADO DEVASTATION IN JOPLIN, MO ‘I don’t know if you guys remember Irwin or not; they were partnered with Roush, and they actually sent 250 pairs of gloves just the other day. I had a friend call and say what they needed immediately were gloves to help with the search and rescue. So Irwin was nice enough to send them some gloves. But all the sponsors, Coke, McDonalds, and everybody has actually come to me. Initially I was like gosh, I’m going to call these people and see if they’ll do something to help raise some money. Everyone that’s involved with our NASCAR program, whether its sponsors or team owners or crew guys all came to me before I could get to them asking for ways they could help. So I thought that was really cool for our community to try and give back to them.”

... the only part left of my house was actually the address left on the front wall.

Jamie McMurray

WAS THAT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL? “Yep, my high school.”

WERE YOU BORN IN THAT HOSPITAL? “I was not born in St. John’s. Most kids are born in Freeman Hospital, which is the hospital that they took everyone from St. John’s to. So no, I was not born in St. John’s.”

HOW CLOSE WAS THE TORNADO TO WHERE YOU USED TO LIVE? DID YOUR OLD HOUSE GET HIT? “Yeah, actually I had friends send me pictures of the neighborhood that I grew up in, and it’s gone. They sent me pictures and I had a friend actually send pictures of my house through text messages, and I didn’t even know what he had sent me. I did figure it out because the only part left of my house was actually the address left on the front wall. But when you look at the pictures of the house, there’s no background. There are no trees or homes or landmark in the background to defy what you’re looking at. So, yeah, really the tornado took the whole neighborhood out.”

HAVE YOU HEARD FROM YOUR OLD HIGH SCHOOL BUDDIES OR OLD GIRLFRIENDS? “I have not heard from any old girlfriends (laughter).”

YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING “Yeah, I don’t have any family there anymore. My family has all moved to North Carolina. I do have a lot of friends still there. But like most of us in here, I probably haven’t stayed as close to friends of my hometown as I would have like to have. But I recently have joined FaceBook and a lot of friends have befriended me. So I’ve been in contact with a few of them. Everyone that I know or at least friends talking to friends, I haven’t known anyone that’s lost their life. I have a lot of friends that have lost their homes. But everyone that I know and of my friends that know, everyone seems to be okay right now. Although, I don’t know any more than you guys (the media) so. I just know what I’ve watched on the news and I’ve read on the internet. There are still a lot of people missing; so you just pray and hope that everyone is okay.”

NORMALLY WHEN YOU COME TO KANSAS FOR THE FALL RACE, YOU USUALLY GO FISHING IN JOPLIN. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR THAT WHEN YOU COME NEXT WEEK? “Initially we planned on another fishing trip to Johnny’s place, but we’re going to go next Thursday. We’re actually going to go to Springfield. We’re going to leave early Thursday morning and meet up with the group from Convoy for Hope at Bass Pro Shops there. I guess they’re sending a lot of supplies down on that day so we’re going to go and meet up with them and then go to Joplin. I was fortunate that the mayor and the chief of police; you know you can’t get everywhere. You can’t just go back to your home I don’t believe, right now. So they’re actually going to give me a tour of everything and let me go see the house I grew up in and my high school, and look at all of it.”

Jamie McMurray, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Jamie McMurray, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

YOU HAVE JOPLIN ON YOUR RACE CAR THIS WEEKEND. DO YOU THINK THAT IF YOU WIN THIS RACE, OR WIN IN KANSAS, DO YOU THINK MAYBE YOU CAN LIFT SOME SPIRITS OF SOME PEOPLE BACK HOME? “Certainly we’re here to win. I haven’t been back to Joplin for four or five years and I moved away from there when I was 20 years old. But Joplin will always be my hometown. And I’ve got, I don’t know, maybe it’s a different outlook now, but when we go do fundraisers, certainly I’m still going to do a lot with Autism, but I think for a long time it will be about Joplin and trying to get the city back where it was. I had a friend who lives there tell me that Joplin would recover; he just didn’t know if it would recover in our lifetime. He said the trees that are down and the amount of building that it’s just going to take a really long time to rebuild all this. So there will be a big effort on my part over the years to come to help with the hospital and school and the families that have lost everything.”

DID THE PEOPLE FROM THE TOWN ACTUALLY REACH OUT TO YOU ABOUT COMING, OR DID YOU INITIATE THAT? “I probably had some friends ask about coming. But I wanted to go there. It’s really hard for me to explain. This doesn’t happen to very many people. There’s something special about your hometown. It’s just hard to explain. I wanted to go there on my own and just see everything. I’ve been glued to the TV for the last six days just watching everything and trying to remember what things looked like before. So, I want to go there and see it for myself.”

HOW DO YOU WEIGH YOUR CHANCES THIS WEEKEND AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE COCA-COLA 600 THAT MAKES IT A SPECIAL WIN? “Well, it being the longest race, certainly there’s something to brag about with the length of the race and how the track changes over the course of the night. This is the one track coming to this year that I was really excited about because we ran so well here last year. It’s always been a really good track for me. We unloaded with the same stuff that we won with and pretty much the same set-up we ran second with; and just a long ways, half a second a lap off the pace. So probably the worst trace we’ve been to this year for us. It’s the same for the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) so I’m not real sure. There is certainly nothing wrong with our cars. We just haven’t hit on it. The new tire has thrown us off at a lot of tracks and man; we just really struggled on Thursday. I was actually with our team at the 7-Post last night from like 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. trying to find something else to try today. And they’ve got a new game plan. Just going off the All-Star race and Thursday night, we were out to lunch. So we’ve got to get better and make some good adjustments and I’m hoping that we found the magic button last night.”

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO APPROACH THE NEXT DOZEN RACES TO GET YOURSELF TO THAT WILDCARD? “We’ve got to get better. We’re struggling right now. I feel like our short track program is probably our best; and that was our worst last year. And the 1.5-mile and bigger tracks where we ran so well last year, we’re struggling on right how. I don’t know if it’s the tires; I don’t know. I think most of the guys on our team and throughout the organization are dumbfounded at how you could be so good at these tracks last year and unload with very similar set-ups and it’s not just the No. 1, but it’s also the No. 42. The difference between winning and running average is so fine because the rules are so close. It doesn’t take a lot to get a long ways off and we’ve proved that. So, at the same time we’re hoping that we can find just a few small things to get us back to where we were last year because we certainly just don’t have the speed right now that we did.”

You only know where you grew up, right?

Jamie McMurray

HAVE YOU SAID ANYTHING TO RICKY STENHOUSE, JR. ABOUT SUBBING FOR TREVOR BAYNE IN FIRST CUP RACE? “I talked to him a little bit before qualifying yesterday, but I didn’t talk to him after that. I did talk to (crew chief of the No. 21 Wood Bros. Ford) Donnie (Wingo) last night and I’d forgotten; Donnie was calling me just to ask about Joplin, and I’ve forgotten even that Ricky was in his car. In the middle of our conversation I asked him where they qualified and he told me ninth and then I started to remember that Stenhouse was in there and I told him he got Ricky at a really good time because that’s where I was in 2002 when I came in. It just seemed like whatever car you got in you ran well. I watched him. He jumped in the No. 21 car and the first two or three laps he was up to speed and he’s a really good race car driver. He’s a super-talented kid. I’ve watched all those Nationwide races and he has come a long ways in a year from crashing and seeming like he was having bad luck, to making really good decisions and he won his first race last week. He’ll be tough on Sunday. That’s a really good car he’s in and the one thing I did tell Ricky was that he came into Cup at a good time because the Roush cars are the strongest cars right now. And if he would have come in last year at this time, it would have been a different story.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU THINK OF GROWING UP IN JOPLIN? WHAT WAS THE BEST THING ABOUT IT? “You only know where you grew up, right? You don’t know what it’s like to grow up in New York City or in a large city. So Joplin to me was just normal. I think about it with my kid and how much different he’s going to grow up than I did because we’re going to live in a much larger environment where there are museums and different culture than the way I was raised in Joplin. Joplin is just home to me. When I think about the school and racing at the go-kart track there in Joplin;I don’t know, I just can’t imagine it any other way because that’s the way it was. Joplin just seems normal to me.”

-source: team chevy

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing
Tags chevrolet, joe gibbs racing, joplin, sprint cup