NASCAR: Jamie McMurray returning for 2021 Daytona 500

(Photo: Courtesy of NASCAR)

The 2010 Daytona 500 champion will take over Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 for NASCAR’s season opener on February 14.

Jamie McMurray is temporarily returning to the NASCAR Cup Series, as he’ll revisit the site of one of his greatest triumphs.

Spire Motorsports announced on Tuesday that McMurray will drive their No. 77 Chevrolet at the 2021 Daytona 500 on February 14 with sponsorship provided by AdventHealth. McMurray, 44, has won twice at Daytona, with the latter of those victories coming in the 2010 edition of The Great American Race. He retired from full-time racing after the 2018 season and currently serves as an analyst for Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage.

“It doesn’t get any better than the Daytona 500, and I am so excited to have the opportunity, thanks to AdventHealth, to run this race one more time,” McMurray said in a statement provided by NASCAR. “I have enjoyed my time out of the car as an analyst covering NASCAR, but nothing can replace the feeling of actually racing.”

McMurray is perhaps best known for one of the most shocking victories in NASCAR history, winning in only his second career Cup Series start back in October 2002 at Charlotte. At the time, McMurray was driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, subbing for an injured Sterling Marlin. It was the fastest any driver earned their first victory at the Cup level in the modern era (since 1972) a record since tied only by Trevor Bayne through his victory at the 2011 Daytona 500. McMurray ran 16 full-time seasons with Ganassi (2003-05, 2010-18) and Roush Fenway Racing (2006-09), with his best finishing in the standings being a 12th-place posting in 2017.

During his full-time career, McMurray had a propensity for winning at NASCAR’s so-called “crown jewel” events. In addition to his two wins at Daytona (also winning the 400-mile summer event in 2007), the Joplin, Missouri native also won the fall event at Talladega twice (2009, 2013) and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis in 2010. He also won the 2014 NASCAR All-Star exhibition at Charlotte.

McMurray previously worked with Spire in 2019, extending his career by one race to run the 2019 edition of the Daytona 500. Driving the No. 40 Chevrolet (a tribute to the No. 40 Dodge in which he won his first Cup event), McMurray ran consistently throughout the day and even led six laps before he was caught up in a late wreck, forcing him to finish 22nd.

Spire Motorsports has run at the Cup Series level since 2019 with a variety of different drivers. Like McMurray, the low-budget squad is used to upset victories, as they shocked the NASCAR world in their debut season when Justin Haley won the rain-shortened Daytona summer race in the No. 77. Haley, a championship contender on the NASCAR Xfinity Series level, is expected to return to the No. 77 in select races this season. Spire purchased the assets of defunct Leavine Family Racing last August, gaining the resources to field a two-car unit this season. Corey LaJoie will pilot their new car, the No. 7 Chevrolet, on a full-time basis. Other Spire alumni include Ross Chastain (current driver of Ganassi’s No. 42 Chevrolet) and Josh Bilicki, who announced on Tuesday that he will be driving the No. 52 car for Rick Ware Racing on a full-time basis this season.

The 2021 Daytona 500 will be run on February 14 (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Mentioned in this article:

More about: