McMurray: ‘Everyone wants the chance to get in a really good car and Alex has done…a phenomenal job’

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Speaking from experience as having started as a substitute driver, Jamie McMurray said every driver “wants the chance to get in a really good car” and that Alex Bowman is doing “a phenomenal job.”

Talking to the media during a teleconference on Friday morning, the driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was asked what a driver like Bowman is going through in a substitute role for a big name driver such as Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Well, if you are a driver that is trying to make it in the sport there is no better position to be put in than to get in a car like that, because you know that you have an opportunity, maybe not to win, but you are in a car that is capable of winning and running up front and showing guys what you can do if you are in the right equipment,” McMurray said.

“Everyone wants the chance to get in a really good car and Alex has done, I think, a phenomenal job at jumping right in and having a lot of speed and racing well. The flip side of that is if you get in that car and you don’t run well, then you lose your opportunity at maybe ever getting that shot again. I think that Alex has, even though he hasn’t pulled off a win, he has had really good speed and I think to me what sticks out the most is he is not even really in a car every week. If you were in a truck every week or a XFINITY car week in and week out and then you were filling in that would be one thing. But he hasn’t really been racing that much this year.

“To jump in and do what he has done at a track like Loudon which is one style or racing and then to go to a place like Michigan, that is completely different he has just done an awesome job. I know that probably for him the phone is not ringing as much as he wants it to, but he is going to get an opportunity because to me he has really shown that he is capable of it.”

McMurray is no stranger to the role of substitute driver. He came into the Sprint Cup Series as a substitute driver in the then No. 40 Dodge for Ganassi Racing after Sterling Marlin broke his neck in a wreck at Kansas Speedway in a season where he was near the top of the points standings for most of the season. He made his debut with a 26th place finish at Talladega Superspeedway. In his second career start the very next week, McMurray led a race high of 96 laps on his way to scoring his first career victory in Cup at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I had raced my whole truck and Busch Series at the time, in cars that I think my Busch car had won like one or two races in seven or eight years,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily a winning car, and then all of a sudden I got in Sterling’s car that had I think won a couple of races earlier that year and it had led the points up to that point, it was a really good car. So, there is a lot of pressure on you to run well because you know that you are in a car that is capable of winning. So, really nervous and then once we won in Charlotte it was like super relieving because not only is that a confidence builder for you, but I think in all the people that are around you.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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