Not Just Another “Pretty Face”

Kelly IrwinCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2009


(Disclaimer: This is my first entry so please be easy on me.)

With Jamie McMurray’s amazing save on Sunday just proves even more that he’s not just another “Pretty Face.”

It’s been mentioned several times, over and over, that Jamie McMurray is just another pretty boy in the NASCAR arena. It’s been said that he’s a mediocre driver and nothing more. Well I beg to differ. Of course, with him being my driver, I’m a little biased, but hey, at least give me a chance to explain.

My support for Jamie came one year ago, before I had even seen a race on TV, let alone attended one. I had just married my husband at that time and we were out with some friends celebrating and I noticed a race was on in the background. My best friend and I started watching and she began talking about her favorite driver, Carl Edwards. My husband heard the commotion and decided to throw in his “two cents.”

He told us that he had grown up with one of Carl’s teammates, Jamie McMurray. So, of course, as any girl would do, I gave him my full attention. He talked about Jamie and his go-kart days and how he made his break into NASCAR with the Sterling Marlin incident, which lead to his first win in only two starts. Needless to say, I was impressed. Still not knowing anything about Jamie, not even what he looked like, I decided to become a fan.

I went home and began looking up information on NASCAR and this Jamie McMurray guy. I learned about his history—his ups and downs, and his current situation at Roush.

One trend that began to stick out was that Jamie would run a good race and bad luck would eventually come his way, until the end of 2008 that is. He finished the season with three top 5 finishes, with the 1st of those being at Texas Motor Speedway, which I was in attendance. It was great to see my driver up front and leading a good portion of the race.

The 2009 season looked as if luck was going to be in Jamie’s favor, after all, he finished 2nd in the Bud Shootout. At the Daytona 500 Jamie was a pick to win by several experts and was running in the top 10. Then Dale Jr. and Brian Vickers happened and we all know how that ended. All of that drama put Jamie out of the race and into the garage. After a lot of repairs, Jamie was back out on the track to finish 37th.

Heading into the California weekend Jamie was poised and ready to prove he has what it takes to be a contender this year. He was yet again running in the top 10 when he began to have a brake issue, which eventually led him to a finish of 16th.

Now it was onto “Vegas Baby!” The city where lady luck resides and finally she was in Jamie’s favor, although it didn’t start out that way. The first two practice sessions Jamie was 20th at best. Qualifying was awful with a starting position of 38th.

When final practice came around Jamie and his crew appeared to have finally used the Irwin tools appropriately and he finished 7th in practice. As the race got underway, Jamie managed to stay out of trouble and avoid all the drama in the first 10 laps. He made it into the top 15 only to be “bumped” by Logano. This is where Jamie proves he is a great driver and not just another pretty face. Logano got into Jamie’s left rear fender and sent Jamie up the track at over 170mph.

Jamie held on for dear life and made the car glide sideways up the track without ever hitting the wall. He did this while being very ill, having just visited the care center before the race to get more medicine for his chest congestion. When asked about the “Save of the Race” Jamie had this to say, “I didn’t hold it wide open the whole time, but I just modulated the gas pedal and the steering wheel. I was really worried because I was a little groggy from having a cold and I didn’t feel like I was as alert as what I needed to be and when that was over I thought, ‘Pretty alert.’ I said to myself, ‘that was pretty cool, but it took me three or four laps to get gathered up. When everyone passed me then I was just kind of like, ‘I need to get going here."

And getting going is just what he did. He battled with a vibration in the engine throughout the majority of the race and safely drove that beautiful Irwin Industrial Tools Ford Fusion across the finish line in 9th position. Not a bad day in my book. I’m also convinced that if what happened to Jamie on Sunday would have happened to almost any other driver it would have been much worse. Jamie has proved over and over that he has amazing driving ability and talent. It just seems bad luck has a way of finding him.

So with that said, after the race on Sunday is Jamie just another “Pretty Face?” I’ll stick with my original answer and we all know what that is.

(Photo courtesy of