I know I won’t be alone when I say that my favorite story of the year had to be Jamie McMurray. Yes the championship battle was fun and “Boys, have at it” brought many exciting moments but no storyline did I ever enjoy following more than McMurray enjoying a dream season that I never really believed he would have. Whether or not McMurray ever reads this, I believe I may echo the sentiments of many other race fans in this letter to the Joplin, Mo. native that managed to steal our hearts:
Dear Jamie McMurray,
First of all, congratulations to you and your wife Christy on the birth of your son Carter Scott McMurray. I’m sure you—like all the other new NASCAR daddies—will be a wonderful father and I hope you and Christy have many wonderful moments with your son in the years to come.
Now for what I really wanted to say: Thank you.
Thank you for your heartfelt Daytona 500 post-race interview, where the emotion spilled out in a moment of triumph so few people will ever get to experience.
Thank you for following it up with an exuberant victory lane celebration at the Brickyard 400 where the disbelief and excitement was as evident in your voice as the trophy that is no doubt now in a place of honor.
Finally, thank you for the quick little speech you gave after your victory in Charlotte. Whether they were people of faith or not, your statement on the “power of prayer” touched a lot of people, myself included. In a time where saying something as simple as “Christmas” now generates controversy, it was refreshing to see someone so willing to share what was really on their heart.
If there’s one thing that seems to aggravate fans right now is the lack of personality among the stars of the sport. Yet in all your interviews, whether post-race, pre-race, or just a random conversation in the garage area or on pit road you are always honest and genuine. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I always looked forward to hearing what you had to say and you almost always made me smile.
When other drivers thank their fans, sponsors, etc. it tends to sound rehearsed and meaningless. It’s just something they feel like they have to or should do. Yet to me and so many others, your “thank you”s in Victory Lane always felt genuine and the gratefulness you felt towards those you were thanking was more than evident in your voice.
Most of all, though, thank you for being one of the good guys. Thank you for being someone your fans can be proud of pulling for (and I know they are), for making almost everyone smile and/or cry, and for being such a refreshing personality that I have yet to find anyone who objects to it. After being unsure on whether or not you would even have a job in 2010, a season like this has to have been beyond your wildest dreams.
I don’t know what 2011 holds for you, but as far as 2010 goes: Thanks for the ride. Even amidst all the excitement 2010 brought, your story was one that couldn’t be topped. I definitely hope and expect to see more of the same.
Other than that, enjoy the offseason and time with your wife and newborn child. I know there are lots of people hoping to see you add to the success you enjoyed this year, and I know you’re looking forward to getting back into a racecar.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and see you in Daytona!