By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Jamie McMurray started his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career driving the No. 40, and he’ll now likely end it with the same car number as Spire Motorsports have partnered up with Chip Ganassi Racing and announced Friday that McMurray will pilot the No. 40 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the 61st Daytona 500 Feb. 17.
The 2010 Daytona 500 champion will have McDonald’s, Cessna and Bass Pro Shops as his sponsors and is also eligible to compete in the Advanced Auto Parts Clash Feb. 10 due to his victory in the “Great American Race.”
McMurray said he’s looking forward to the opportunity of having his long-time sponsors sticking with him as he eyes at another shot of capturing a second Daytona 500 victory.
“The Daytona 500 is the one race that every NASCAR driver would want to win,” said McMurray. “For the rest of your life you get to be introduced or recognized as a Daytona 500 Champion. I’m excited to have the opportunity to potentially be a two-time winner of the race and it would mean so much to celebrate one more win with all of the great partners that have been with me for so many years.”
The Joplin, Missouri native began his Cup career on Oct. 6, 2002 at Talladega Superspeedway, filling in for Sterling Marlin, who had a season-ending neck injury after a hard Turn 2 crash during the previous race at Kansas Speedway. McMurray wound end up 26th in the last-ever caution free race, but a week later, he would shock the field.
During the Oct. 13, 2002 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, McMurray, who had yet to win in the Xfinity Series, led 96 of 334 laps and brought the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge into victory lane in just his second Cup start. He led the final 31 laps and held off Bobby Labonte to bring Ganassi’s third victory of the season.
McMurray would respond to his victory with a seventh place finish at Atlanta, where he finally captured that elusive Xfinity Series victory that same weekend. From there, he went on to race with Ganassi full-time in 2003 and captured Rookie of the Year honors.
In his 17-year Cup career, McMurray visited victory lane seven times (five with Ganassi), including the Daytona 500 and a Brickyard 400 win in 2010. In addition, McMurray won 11 poles, finished in the top-10 168 times in 582 starts and made the playoffs from 2015-17.
As for Spire Motorsports, Daytona will mark their team debut as they acquired Furniture Row Racing’s charter and have also hired former team president Joe Garone to lead the newly assembled squad.
Additional announcements regarding who will pilot the No. 77 (for Daytona, it’ll be the No. 40) for the rest of the season have yet to be determined.