The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.
Jamie McMurray checks in at No. 12 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“When you look over at Ganassi, you look at the one year Jamie McMurray had. He won the Daytona 500 and he won the Brickyard. So obviously he has some talent,” a former driver says. “I think Ganassi needs to work on their cars so the talent can show up.”
“Jamie is not the greatest driver in Sprint Cup, obviously. He’s also far from the worst,” another industry insider says. “The problem is with the engineering back at the shop. The Ganassi organization was behind last year and can only hope that the rules changes coming in next year work to their advantage or they somehow find speed another way. Otherwise, 2016 will be more of the same where they can run up front once in a while, but not consistently. It’s now been two years since McMurray has won, and last year he led a total of just 14 laps.
“Most people focused on how he finally made the Chase for the first time in his career, but the fact is he led laps in only three races — one lap at Phoenix, nine at Texas in the spring and four at Richmond in the spring. He didn’t lead a single lap in any of the last 27 races. That’s pathetic, really, when you think about it and what they thought their real potential was going to be. Sure, they made the Chase; but they never threatened to win any races.”
Winless Wonder: McMurray found himself shut out of Victory Lane last season but posted his best average finish (14.9) since his sophomore season in Sprint Cup (2004). It’s that consistency that still landed him inside the Chase, his first postseason appearance in a long career and a sign he’s turned the corner on roller-coaster results that could hurt your roster.
The Shorter The Better: Six of McMurray’s 10 top-10 finishes last season came at oval tracks a mile or less. Only once in 12 starts did he run outside the top 15 (26th at Loudon) and finished runner-up at Phoenix and Martinsville.
Restrictor Plate Comeback? McMurray went 0-for-4 at his traditional strongholds of Daytona and Talladega in 2015. But don’t lay off too much; he was due for bad luck there. Four of McMurray’s seven career wins have come at those superspeedways.