NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 93: Jamie McMurray on how driver rivalries have changed

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Jamie McMurray says rivalries haven’t disappeared from NASCAR, they just are getting harder to discern.

As a guest on a recent episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who entered Cup in 2002, talked about how his generation had changed their approaches on the track as their lives changed off it (noting “a different vibe in the bus lot” with many of his peers having kids).

“We have learned retaliation isn’t necessarily the best way to get back at someone,” McMurray said. “When I first started racing, some people wrecked people intentionally. Everyone is smarter now. Odds are if you wreck somebody, they will wreck you back the next week, and you didn’t gain anything by it.

“So for the most part, when you want to get back at someone, you race them differently, you block on pit road. There are things that can happen that maybe fans don’t see that hurt the other guy. I feel like those two drivers know why it’s happening and the reason behind it, but it’s not one of those things where you get out and throw your helmet on pit road.”

McMurray, who turned 41 in June, cited the aftermath of a recent run-in at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Kurt Busch (a former teammate at Roush Fenway Racing) as an example.

“At Indy, I made it three wide on a restart,” McMurray said. “At Pocono, (Busch) came up to me and said something that didn’t go well. I texted him after the race and said, ‘Look I’m sorry, I didn’t handle that the right way. I’ve been friends with you for 15 years.’ Then we texted back and forth, and he’s like, ‘Man, it’s just part of racing.’ He was just mad. You definitely handle things differently when you’re 40 than you do when you’re 25. You grow up and learn from your mistakes.”

McMurray also sees differences in how the younger crop of drivers led by Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott are choosing to race veterans.

“I feel like all of those guys were really smart in that they gave a lot initially,” he said. “Once you give in one or two times, I think the guy who’s been there a while knows that, and then it’s all equal. Ryan and Chase and Larson are all really smart racers. They’ve all done a really good job of not poking the bear. They’re really fun to race with now.”

During the podcast, McMurray also opened up on:

–Why he recently posted biometric data comparing his heart rate from a marathon bike ride to a Cup race at New Hampshire;

–The fitness trend in NASCAR;

–Why he enjoys observing social media but doesn’t participate in it;

–How he’d like NASCAR to open up its rulebook and lessen punishments.

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