On Oct. 13, 2002, in just his second-ever Cup start — driving as a sub for the injured Sterling Marlin — Jamie McMurray held off Bobby Labonte to win the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It remains one of the most unexpected results in NASCAR history, although it ultimately proved to be little more than a flash in the pan.
Sixteen years and 580 Cup starts later, McMurray’s career hasn’t played out in the same storybook fashion as it started, as his production just never measured up to that of his peers in the Cup garage. McMurray won only six more times and never finished in the top 10 of the Cup point standings, although he did earn some signature wins, including 2010’s Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, and a 2015 win on a four-driver Ganassi sports car team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona that was a boon to his career resume McMurray’s career top-10 percentage in the Cup series (.289) lagged far behind many of his contemporaries, including Jimmie Johnson (.572), Matt Kenseth (.495), Kurt Busch (.432) and Ryan Newman (.398).
McMurray, 42, was replaced by Kurt Busch in the Ganassi No. 1 during the offseason after going winless since 2013. He’ll race in a special third entry for Ganassi in the Daytona 500 (starting 16th) before retiring to life as a television analyst for Fox’s weekday NASCAR coverage. He is also expected to begin a front office role in the Ganassi organization.