Rolex 24 victory adds to Jamie McMurray’s big-win reputation

Jamie McMurray has yet to win NASCAR’s biggest prize, a Sprint Cup Series championship.

But he has won just about everything else.

And along the way he has emerged as one of NASCAR’s most versatile drivers.

McMurray added another accomplishment to his already padded racing resume over the weekend as he, three-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan and reigning Cup series rookie of the year Kyle Larson teamed up to win the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race.

McMurray joins A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24.

“To get to be in this group with Mario and A.J. is quite a feeling,” McMurray said. “This is a big deal for me because these cars are so different than the car I typically drive.

“I think it’s easier for the IndyCar guys to come over. When it comes to electronics, I hear the guys talk about the way the car feels or what they need or about the traction control. They relate to it so much better than how Kyle and I do.

“It’s really special. I’m glad I got to be with this group.”

McMurray’s entry was fielded by his Cup series team owners, Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates.

McMurray is in his second stint driving for Ganassi and Sabates in the Cup series, but the pairing has provided a lifetime worth of special moments.

“I told Chip after the race was over that we have got to share some of the most special memories of my life,” McMurray said. “Some of the greatest days, with the exception of getting married and having kids, I’ve shared with Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates.”

McMurray, 38, owns victories in the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and last May added a win in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, capturing its $1 million top prize.

Despite no series championships, McMurray has won in all three of NASCAR’s national series – Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

He grew up racing go-karts and competed in nearly every form of karting around the country before moving to late-model stock cars. McMurray still occasionally enters a World Karting Association event on a NASCAR off-weekend.

Although his number of NASCAR victories is not large – seven Cup, eight Xfinity, one Trucks – he has a penchant for cashing some of racing’s biggest paychecks.

“I’ve just been really fortunate to be with good teams and been able to put the races together at the right time,” he said. “This race is really unique.

“This is the one race that I get to run where when you get out of the car you know everyone is being 100 percent honest with you about what the car is doing, what they’re feeling, so that’s part of what makes this, I think, so special.”

But why do it? Many drivers crave the offseason time away from the sport that typically fills upwards of 40 weekends a year.

“We do it because we love to race and because it’s the offseason. I look forward to this every single year, and I can’t wait to get the email that says we want you to be a part of our team this year,” McMurray said.

“I’m here because I love racing and because this is one of the biggest races in America and you want to win it. That’s it. That’s the only reason.”

Mission accomplished.