Jamie McMurray’s Daytona 500-Winning No. 1 Chevrolet was inducted into Daytona 500 Experience.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Winning the most prestigious race on the NASCAR circuit finally started to sink in Monday morning for 2010 Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray, who celebrated with his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team during the Daytona 500 Champion’s Breakfast at Daytona 500 Experience.
“It’s kind of sinking in,” McMurray said. “Every time we do something it’s a little more real. Whether it’s getting the jackets or the ring or just everything that’s a part of this, it’s just really, really exciting.”
After a late night of celebrating their coveted victory in “The Great American Race”, the team handed over their No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet to be inducted into the attraction’s Gatorade Victory Lane. The winning car will be on display until next February when it will be returned to the team prior to the 53rd annual Daytona 500.
Winning crew chief Kevin “Bono” Manion was enjoying the surreal experience.
“Everything’s been in fast forward,” Manion said. “Pictures, media center, inspecting the car, pushing the car to the trailer to come over here and then a couple hours of sleep for some of us. It’s just been so exciting.
“(On) rain delays you stay over but winning the race and you have to stay over and have breakfast -- that's pretty cool.”
Also enjoying the festivities was co-owner Chip Ganassi, who is one of only two owners to win both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.
“Jamie showed me a text from (last year’s Daytona 500 champion) Matt Kenseth where he said, ‘You’ll never want this day to end.’ I agree completely. I don’t want this day to end.
“You have a complete flashback of your entire racing career -- thinking about the possibility of something like this happening. You’re always shooting for that and you’re always trying for that. It’s just so reflective right now. Every sacrifice you made and every tough meeting I’ve had with a crew chief or a driver – the ups and downs of this business. It all seems worth it now.”
McMurray, who also unveiled the logo for 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20th, is now on a whirlwind media tour making appearances on Late Show with David Letterman and Live with Regis and Kelly in New York City as well as making stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles before Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Despite his hectic upcoming schedule, McMurray knows the memory he’s going to take away from all of this.
“The thing that I’m going to remember is getting out of the car and running up and grabbing the flag and then running back down and seeing the Daytona (painted) in the infield (grass) and seeing ‘Daytona 500’. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. That’s the memory I have burned in my head right now of the 500; that’s something I’ll never forget.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return in July for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola July 1-3. For tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com
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