Last year we all learned that Bass Pro Shops was going to stay at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and adorn the No. 1 of Jamie McMurray for half of the races in 2010. Many people, this writer included, thought it was a horrible marriage with McMurray’s metro image and the outdoors demographic of Bass Pro’s clientele. Fast forward to the All-Star weekend at Charlotte and the two sides could not be much happier with how the year is progressing and the partnership between the two.
Johnny Morris was in town to unveil a special paint scheme that is going to adorn the No. 1 Chevrolet at Talladega this fall. It is a throwback to the gold Bass Pro scheme that Dale Earnhardt drove in the 1998 Winston. The Tracker Boats section on the rear quarterpanels has been replaced by a tribute to Earnhardt, and the rear deck lid will commemorate the induction of Earnhardt into the Hall of Fame. The fall Talladega race was selected because this will be the 10th anniversary of Earnhardt’s final victory in the Cup Series.
After the unveiling of the cars, Morris was asked about how the sponsorship of McMurray was working out. He said that Chip Ganassi and Teresa Earnhardt seem happy about the way things are going, and the he and the Bass Pro folks are certainly happy about it. Morris confirmed the fact that McMurray is from Joplin, Mo. has really resonated with the fans back home in Springfield where Bass Pro is headquartered. It certainly hasn’t hurt that McMurray won the Daytona 500 in his first points paying run in the car.
McMurray also surprised at least some of the people in attendance when he announced that he had shot a 25-pound turkey on Morris’s farm during a recent hunting excursion with the noted outdoorsman. McMurray has certainly embraced his new sponsor and is learning what a great experience it is spending time in the outdoors. There is no doubt that McMurray will be bringing quite a few more patrons through the turnstiles at Bass Pro Shop as he continues to relish the beauty the wilderness provides.
McMurray is currently 17th in points, a mere 92 points out of the Chase, and has actually scored more top-five finishes than three of the people who are currently in the top 12. If the team can cut down on the 30th or worse finishes, of which they have four, and turn bad weeks into mid-teen finishes instead of tail end of the field finishes, they will have a very good shot at running for the big trophy at the end of the season.
Had this season turned out differently and McMurray run at that back of the pack, this happy marriage might not be so happy. However, the first half of the regular season has been a very good run for McMurray, with a win and two second-place finishes. There is no doubt that an equally successful second half of the regular season could very well lead to a Chase berth and most likely stories of McMurray bagging a 10-point buck on Morris’s farm in the fall.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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