NASCAR Season Preview: Jamie McMurray

Photo credit: Mike Kalasnik (CC-BY-SA)

#1 Bass Pro Shops/McDonald’s Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

Born: June 3, 1976

Home: Joplin, Missouri

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: McMurray continued his trend of showing up near the front of the field in big races, leading laps in the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, and Brickyard 400, among other races. His best finishes of the season were a fourth at Indianapolis and a fifth in the Bristol night race.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: It’s hard to follow up a season in which you win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, inspire a rule change in the Chase for the Sprint Cup that emphasizes winning, and sign a multi-year contract extension, but 2011 was by all means a disappointment for McMurray. He fell from 14th to 27th in points after failing to score any wins and posted a measly 22.2 average finish.

SEASON OUTLOOK: You never know quite what you’re going to get with McMurray, a talented driver who has had a very uneven career. Things had been looking up for the Earnhardt Ganassi outfit after a strong 2010, but a team-wide slump last season relegated them to mid-pack at best and underwhelming at worst. But while Juan Pablo Montoya wasn’t far off of his 2010 results, McMurray went from a wild-card Chase challenger to an also-ran in 2011.

In response, Earnhardt Ganassi made a slew of changes within the organization. Competition director Steve Hmiel, team manager Tony Glover, and lead engineer Ed Nathman are gone, replaced by new technical director John Probst (ex-Team Red Bull) and new team manager Max Jones (who briefly co-owned Yates Racing before it merged into Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009). McMurray and crew chief Bono Manion will work together once again, but it’s hoped that a new culture in the Earnhardt Ganassi shop will yield better results than they did in 2011.

– Chris Leone


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: