When Jamie McMurray won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race on May 17th, of this year, he became one of only five drivers to win the three biggest races in the sport, the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, and the Sprint All-Star Race in their career. In each of these wins his victory came as a surprise to many. Does McMurray have one more surprise in his future? Perhaps an induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
Jamie McMurray’s overall NASCAR career has been pretty unspectacular. In his 13 years at the sport’s highest level, Sprint Cup, he has started 413 races. During that time he has won only seven races, captured 45 top-fives, and 110 top-tens, to go along with nine pole positions. He has failed to ever finish in the top-ten of overall points.
However, with his Sprint All-Star win the Joplin, Missouri native joins some select company in the sport. Only four other drivers have ever won what are considered the sport’s biggest three races, and those four are all certain future NASCAR Hall of Famers. The other four drivers who have accomplished this are Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kevin Harvick.
While it is true that both Johnson, and Gordon, have assured themselves of Hall of Fame status through their multiple championships in the sport more so than through any single victory, there is no doubt when it comes time for their induction their wins at Daytona, Indianapolis, and the All-Star Race, will all be featured. If their importance is valued in the evaluation of these two all-time greats, why shouldn’t anyone think they will be considered when looking at McMurray’s career.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., much like McMurray, has yet to capture a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in his career. With approximately 100 more career Sprint Cup starts than McMurray, Earnhardt Jr. has only managed to secure 13 more wins giving him 20 overall. He has managed to capture two NASCAR Nationwide championships, and finished in the top-ten of Sprint Cup points seven times, which gives him much more credibility when it comes Hall of Fame time. The biggest factor when deciding whether Dale Earnhardt Jr. belongs in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, however, will most likely be his winning of the sport’s Most Popular Driver award 11 times, and counting.
Kevin Harvick has also never won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, but that seems to be the only thing missing from his racing career. In 14 years of Sprint Cup racing, Harvick has captured 25 wins, and finished in the top-ten in the overall points standings seven times, with five of those being in the top-five. He has also won two NASCAR Nationwide championships, and even has 14 wins in the Camping World Truck Series. Much like Earnhardt Jr. the wins at Daytona, Indianapolis, and in the Sprint All-Star Race, will certainly help his consideration for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but ultimately he will be judged on his overall career.
Does Jamie McMurray’s NASCAR career compare favorably to those of Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., and Harvick? Definitely not. But does that really lessen his accomplishments, particularly his ability to win the biggest races in the sport?
Would it be a surprise for Jamie McMurray to be elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the conclusion of his career? Yes, but wasn’t it also a surprise when he won the Daytona 500? Wasn’t it a surprise when he won the Brickyard 400? And, wasn’t it a surprise when he won the Sprint All-Star Race earlier this year? Yes, yes, and yes.
Whose to say McMurray won’t give us his biggest surprise after he hangs up his helmet.