The young guns are here and more are coming, a youth movement that has some of NASCAR’s veterans thinking through the final years of their respective careers.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray (41), who has one of those young superstars in Kyle Larson as a teammate, has a planned finite timeline for the remainder of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
“My goal is to be able to race for four more years, maybe a little bit more,” McMurray said during Champion’s Week in Las Vegas earlier this month. “At this point, you know that your days are somewhat numbered. But I don’t know. At the same time, (the youth movement) is a part of our sport.”
REVIEW: Jamie McMurray’s season
Another year like 2017, and racing until 2021 or longer appears not only possible, but likely.
McMurray qualified for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the third consecutive year in 2017, and advanced to the Round of 12 for the first time.
McMurray’s 17 top-10 finishes were his most in a season since 2004, and some of his more impressive Loop Data statistics include: 74 percent of all laps run in 2017 were in the top 15 (eighth-best in the series) and 86 percent of McMurray’s laps logged came when he was on the lead lap (also good for eighth-best in the series).
Those numbers suggest McMurray is both fast and consistent.
PHOTOS: McMurray through the years
He also is poised, which comes with the experience of having 15 full-time seasons of experience in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. That makes the experience of listening to “Scanner Sounds,” which McMurray says he does on occasion, illustrate a critical difference as the young guns as the make their way up the ranks — and provide a bit of levity to the veteran.
“When I listen to the race replays of the radio between the drivers and things they say, I get a kick out of the younger guys,” McMurray said. “They explode on the radio, right, and they’re just so mad at things that happen. And I just laugh because I don’t get mad like that anymore. I’ve kind of experienced it. It’s happened before, so you handle it differently.
“But that’s the thing that sticks out to me most about the younger guys is they’re really fast. I mean Chase (Elliott) and Ryan Blaney and Larson and all these guys that have kind of recently come in, they’re fast and awesome drivers, but it’s kind of funny to see how they handle situations they haven’t been put in before.”