The white flag is out for Jamie McMurray.
Sunday’s Daytona 500 will (probably) mark the Joplin, Mo., native’s final career NASCAR start, driving the No. 40 for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Despite having already went through this process once last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, this weekend is different.
“This is super different than Homestead was, knowing that it was my last race full time,” McMurray said. “It’s a much different vibe here. I’ve already started my next career with TV. It’s been a lot of taping, getting ready with FOX. Coming down here, it’s very laid back.
“A plate race is so much different than you have at any other track, the fact that I got to run the Clash and we have the 150s before it. It’s three races, not just your last one, so it’s a lot different weekend. I’m looking forward to the 500 and what comes after that.”
What comes after racing may include, well, time at the racetrack.
“I’m still going to be involved with Ganassi’s organization,” he said. “I’m still going to come to the track, do sponsor stuff, team stuff for them, and I’m doing all the FOX broadcasting. I’m still really busy, still really involved with the sport, and I’m looking forward to those new challenges.
“Being on TV is such a different perspective on our sport. It’s a different mindset. I’m looking forward to being a NASCAR fan and enjoying the races vs. being involved in it. It’s a lot different.”
The 17-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran may have gotten all his emotions out last year in Miami and isn’t anticipating any waterworks on the grid pre-race for the final time.
“My emotions were really all at Homestead,” he said. “This has been really just a celebration more than having emotions. I’m going to miss the racing part of it, but not all the rest that goes with it. As far as driving, yeah, I’ll miss all of that. I’ll still be at the racetrack; all my friends are here. It’s not like I’m giving up all of it, I’m just giving up the driving part.”
He did leave the door cracked open for a potential return here or there to racing. But don’t count on it anytime soon.
“If an opportunity comes up,” he said. “I have talked with Chip (Ganassi) if I would do Sonoma [Raceway] or Watkins Glen [International]; the road courses really interest me. Or maybe doing something in a sports car. I don’t know or have anything planned.”