If you could be a NASCAR Cup driver this year would you rather be Clint Bowyer or Jamie McMurray? Think about that.
McMurray’s 2010 record is too inconsistent to challenge for the Championship. But he has visited the Winner’s Circle on a pair of occasions. And they were huge events.
He paced the field to the checkered flag in the biggest stock car race in the world. Last February on a chilly Sunday evening, McMurray crossed the finish line first in the Daytona 500. Bringing about an effusive response from the pit crew and literal tears from the driver in post race interviews. There are some sports fans that watch just one single race all year. And McMurray won it.
The Series visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but once every season. The mid summer 400 mile race is not Indy’s defining event. But any motorized activity on the tracks’ hallowed ground is a cherished win to any racing driver.
McMurray saved his second win for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. This gave team owner Chip Ganassi a unique collection of wins with Daytona, the Brickyard, and the Indianapolis 500 with driver Dario Franchitti.
Bowyer has not won a Cup race in 2010. His group has run well plenty of weeks and garnered more points than McMurray.
Last Saturday at Richmond, Bowyer was a threat for victory. Again. He came up short but showed the team has the capabilities and speed to win. Over the course of the year the Richard Childress Racing outfit has consistently been a top finisher. Enough to claim the twelfth and final Chase position.
Making the Chase is a goal of so many in the sport. It separates that dozen from the rest of the top stock car world. In Cup racing it is a brotherhood, a fraternity, an honor.
So who would you rather be?
Going for a championship is an outstanding achievement. And I have the utmost respect for Bowyer and everyone at RCR. Bowyer is very likeable and has an outstanding grassroots short track background. Qualities I believe should be mandatory for every single person making a living on NASCAR’s professional levels.
But for me I would rather be Jamie Mac. The simple explanation is the basic reason for racing. Winning. Getting to Victory Lane. McMurray didn’t win more than anyone else. But he won the two biggest NASCAR races of the year. The Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 wins are worth more than a few other wins on the resume and a little more stature level than most other speedways.
As a child in the grandstand years ago I had plenty of racecar driving dreams. Not a single one involved earning points. They all involved winning the race. I guess in that way I still haven’t grown up. And I don’t want to.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)
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