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NASCAR's comeback man

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) -

Despite missing the Chase by a distant 127 points, Jamie McMurray continues to enjoy a dream season that he would have never imagined one year ago.

McMurray's career in the Sprint Cup Series was in doubt at the tail end of the 2009 season. Roush Fenway Racing closed shop on his No.26 team at season's end, but Martin Truex Jr.'s departure from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to Michael Waltrip Racing opened the door for McMurray in the No.1 car.

And what a thrilling ride its been for McMurray so far in his first season with EGR.

After winning last Saturday's race at Charlotte, McMurray said he recently had discovered the power of prayer. With victories in the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis earlier this year, his prayers are being answered...in a big way.

"I just wanted it to be understood that after the season that I had, or the last four years I had, I found the power of prayer, and that it's something that I really believe in," McMurray said. "When I got to victory lane in Daytona, that's what I was thinking about. I was crying, obviously, because I was happy, but also because you feel like a prayer has been answered."

Jamie McMurray earned rookie of the year honors in his first full Cup season with Ganassi in 2003.
Eight years ago, McMurray made a grand entrance into NASCAR's premier series by winning the fall race at Charlotte in just his second start. He moved up in rank from the Nationwide Series in October 2002 when team owner Chip Ganassi selected him as substitute driver for Sterling Marlin after Marlin suffered a neck injury during a crash at Kansas.

McMurray earned rookie of the year honors in his first full Cup season with Ganassi in 2003. He spent the next two seasons with Ganassi before he signed with Roush for 2006, but his four-year tenure at Roush was somewhat of a disappointment, as he finished no better than 16th in points.

Following his 2002 Charlotte win, it took McMurray nearly five years to drive back into victory lane for a Cup race, when he edged Kyle Busch by inches at Daytona in July 2007. McMurray's third win in the series came last November at Talladega.

"I've grown up a lot in the last eight years," he said. "I'm married and expecting a child. My life has changed a lot. I feel like I'm a lot smarter of a racer and I try to put myself in a better position probably than what I did back then."

McMurray currently has a one-year agreement with EGR, but a contract extension is in the works. However, next season is far from McMurray's mind right now, as he hopes to end his year on a higher note.

"I really haven't thought about next year; just working on the remainder of this season," McMurray said. "I don't think you should put the cart in front of the horse. You take this one week at a time."

With a comeback like he's had this season, don't be surprised if McMurray remains at EGR for quite some time.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Symeon at csymeon@sportsnetwork.com.

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