NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Jamie McMurray is returning to his roots this weekend at historic Daytona International Speedway during Daytona KartWeek by Cometic Gasket.
McMurray, who drives the No. 26 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, is competing in the World Karting Association's Sprint Championships on the half-mile sprint track located in the infield between Turns 3 and 4 while his father Jim is racing the 3.56-mile road course in the Elite Karting Championships.
"I've been trying to get him to come back because this is where we actually started," said Jim McMurray, who has been a regular fixture to Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket events since the late 1970s. "We started racing karts when he was seven. There are so many people to thank in the karting industry that has actually helped us get to the level of where we're at now."
Jamie McMurray spent many Christmas holidays with his family in Daytona Beach racing go-karts at Daytona International Speedway with dreams of racing NASCAR one day. About six months ago, McMurray got the go-kart itch back and purchased a go-kart.
He competed in a karting event in Pennsylvania and has been anxiously awaiting Daytona KartWeek by Cometic Gasket, which started Friday, Dec. 28 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 30.
Since returning to his roots, McMurray is quickly finding out how much things have changed in karting.
"Go karting is so much more advanced than it was when I raced," McMurray said. "When I raced karts, it was literally a hobby, a mom and pop thing. Man, you come here, there are teams. You drive for a team. The karts are so fast. It's just unbelievable how much faster and the load, it's really hard on your body to do this. I just really enjoy this. It's fun."
Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket isn't going to be as stressful as a NASCAR weekend for McMurray but he hopes the extra time at Daytona doesn't burn him out before the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17.
"Daytona, there's something every year when you come here," McMurray said. "You're so excited and I had that yesterday when I got here. But you are here for so long (during DIRECTV Speedweeks) that you are ready to go home. I'm hoping that the two or three extra days that I'm spending here karting is not going to burn me out too soon but you can't beat it, it's beautiful weather here."
Daytona KartWeek by Cometic Gasket is the first time that McMurray has returned to Daytona International Speedway since he won the 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in July. McMurray nosed Kyle Busch by .005 seconds, the second closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.
The victory was his first at Daytona International Speedway and his first win since October of 2002, a streak of 166 races.
The Daytona victory, which was the second of his career, was still fresh in his mind when he arrived at the track on Thursday.
"I remember taking off from here in July at 3 in the morning or whatever," McMurray said. "There's not really anything that compares to Daytona. Certainly winning at Charlotte at home is a big deal and winning at the Brickyard would be a big deal but Daytona, that's our race. The only one bigger for me would be winning the 500."
When McMurray won his first career Sprint Cup Series victory in Charlotte in 2002, it was only his second career Sprint Cup Series start as he was subbing for an injured Sterling Marlin.
The unique situation of filling in for an injured driver and being so fresh to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series scene didn't let McMurray truly appreciate the experience of winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race."I savored it, yes I did" McMurray says of his Daytona win. "I remember it really well. When I won Charlotte, it was an odd
circumstance because I was subbing for Sterling. You were trying to be grateful because you were in someone else's ride and you didn't get to enjoy it with your team. Now I get to enjoy it with my team."
Tickets for Daytona KartWeek by Cometic Gasket are available at the gate. Race tickets for any Daytona International Speedway events are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Media Contact: Daytona International Speedway PR, (386) 947-6782