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Jamie McMurray ready for the end of his full-time NASCAR career

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jamie McMurray hasn’t decided if he will race the 2019 Daytona 500 for Chip Ganassi Racing, but he has made peace with his NASCAR career essentially being over.

And because of the advice of his peers and his own experience with pursuing a ride, he’s ready for it.

“I’m really fortunate that I wasn’t the first of all my friends, so I’ve talked to (Greg) Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Casey Mears last week,” the No. 1 Chevrolet driver said Friday after practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “I’ve talked to a lot of drivers that have recently went through it, and everyone’s story is exactly the same. And so if I feel the way that they do, I’m looking forward to three to four races into next year.”

McMurray said he will make a decision “soon” on Ganassi’s offers to drive in a third car for the team at Speedweeks 2019 and take on a management role with the organization (similar to that of Dario Franchitti with Ganassi’s IndyCar team), but there’s “just a lot of other things that I’m going through trying to figure out that I can’t say, but I hope I can soon.” He said he is considering other racing opportunities (though virtually ruled out sports cars).

But if he races at Daytona International Speedway, that likely will be it in NASCAR’s premier series for McMurray, who is wrapping up his 16th full season (and his second stint at Ganassi, where he has driven Cup from 2002-05 and ’10-18).

“I had opportunities to drive, they just weren’t opportunities I wanted,” he said. “I was fighting for one of the (open) rides. There was a point that honestly I looked at it, and I was like, ‘I don’t know that I want them to call me back.’

“I was fighting because I thought it was the right thing to do, but I wanted to drive (at Ganassi). I like this team, and I have so much history, I didn’t want to bounce somewhere else for a year and be unhappy.”

McMurray, 42, said his decision was easier after watching Kenseth return in a part-time role with Roush Fenway Racing this year after losing his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth has said Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway likely will be his last race because he didn’t like readjusting to the NASCAR grind and missing time with his four young daughters.

McMurray, a father of two with his wife, Christy, also is looking forward to more family time.

“Matt’s my best friend, my closest racing buddy, and so I spent a lot of time talking to Matt about his feelings toward everything and what he’s thinking,” McMurray said. “Because everyone says eventually you do miss the competition side of it, but the rest of (the season) is super tiring, and it’s just been so long.

“That’s made my transition easier because every single one of those people that have transitioned out (of NASCAR) have called and told me the same story, and it’s all ended in a good way.”

The Joplin, Missouri, native has stayed mum on his future because he wanted to avoid an awkward farewell, but he will be commemorating the 582nd start of a Cup career that includes seven victories (including the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400). Besides his wife, children, mother and father, he also is flying in his sister, Trisha, who will be attending one of her brother’s Cup races for the first time.

McMurray said he probably will reveal his future plans on social media.

“I would have loved to tell everybody what I think I’m going to do next year, but I just don’t have it finalized yet, so I’m just going to kind of wait,” he said.

Jay Fabian named Cup Series Managing Director

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NASCAR announced it has named Jay Fabian as the Cup Series managing director, replacing Richard Buck.

NASCAR confirmed Buck is no longer with the company, which underwent significant layoffs last week. Buck had served as the managing director of the Cup Series since January 2014.

Fabian movies into the position after serving as the managing director of technical integration at NASCAR, where he oversaw post-race technical inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.

Fabian’s experience includes serving as an over-the-wall crew member, a crew chief and a 10-year tenure at the defunct Michael Waltrip Racing.

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A native of Everett, Pennsylvania, Fabian joined NASCAR in April 2016.

“With his vast experience across the industry, Jay Fabian is uniquely suited for this position,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer said in a press release. “Jay’s steady leadership and depth of knowledge are tremendous assets that will greatly benefit the series and all of NASCAR.”

Fabian will report directly to Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition.

“This is a fast-paced sport that is constantly evolving, and I’m thankful for this opportunity and eager to take on the challenge,” Fabian said a press release. “Racing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. There is growing anticipation for the 2019 season, and I’m looking forward to being a part of an outstanding team that will help build our sport.”

Fabian’s passion for racing stretches to his own son’s career.

He documents Brady Fabian’s karting career frequently on Twitter.

Mike Wallace ready to make another run at NASCAR Cup racing

Mike Wallace before his last Cup start, the 2015 Daytona 500. Photo: Getty Images
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When Mike Wallace developed a heart issue that resulted in triple bypass surgery in April 2015, it left the veteran NASCAR driver with unfinished business in his racing career.

Now, nearly four years later and fully healthy, the 59-year-old brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and Kenny Wallace hopes to finish some of that business in the 2019 season with Rick Ware Racing.

“I still have that passion,” Mike Wallace told NBC Sports on Wednesday. “I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop racing in 2015 on my own terms. And I’m very comfortable with life. It’s not like I have to do this to complete it, but I just like racing, I like it a lot, I like to be behind the wheel.”

Rick Ware Racing has two NASCAR Cup charters for 2019, which means both the No. 51 and No. 52 must run every race. Ware has offered one of those rides to Wallace, but the latter has to attract more sponsorship.

“Rick reached out, asked me to drive for him, but we have to find some money,” Wallace said. “Rick’s not in a position to hire a driver straight out. So we have a little bit of associate sponsorship put together. But we need sponsorship dollars to complete the package.

“It could be a great deal for him and his team, a great deal for me and it’s an incredibly reasonable, great opportunity for a marketing partner or partners to get involved, because you probably couldn’t get yourself into this sport and the NASCAR business any more reasonable than you can right now.”

Wallace posted on both LinkedIn and Facebook in the last couple of days seeking sponsors for the No. 52 car that he hopes to drive all season, with the exception of the Daytona 500 (although if a primary sponsor steps forward in the next week, Wallace could potentially still compete in that race).

“I know because of my age, Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs, people like that aren’t going to be calling for me to drive their cars, so why not do it if you can do it,” said Wallace, who turns 60 in March. “I still think I’m alert, healthy, have done every test you can do, have great endurance, eyesight, everybody says I’m good to go.

“Passion drives my desire. I’ve always had a passion for being a race car driver and motorsports and the NASCAR world. NASCAR racing is the coolest thing in the country.”

For now, Wallace said he and Ware have enough sponsor dollars to field the No. 52 for Atlanta, California and Las Vegas for starters.

“We worked together years ago, Rick actually fielded my daughter Chrissy in 2007-2008 era, I’ve raced against him or cars he’s owned forever,” Wallace said. “As he told me, he’d like to have a nice season with a driver like myself who can win races and run competitively and take care of equipment. We just have to make it work (financially).”

Wallace and son Matt competed in Super Late Model competition last year and it whetted the elder Wallace’s appetite to give NASCAR another go.

Wallace has made 197 Cup starts, the last race coming in 2015 (Daytona 500) just before his heart issue. He also has a combined 609 starts across both the Xfinity and Truck series, with a combined nine wins and 55 top-5 finishes.

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Joey Gase joins MBM Motorsports in Xfinity, Cup

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MBM Motorsports announced Wednesday it has signed Joey Gase to compete for the team in the Xfinity and Cup Series this season.

Gase will compete full-time in Xfinity driving the No. 35 Toyota. He will race part-time in Cup in the No. 66 Toyota, beginning with an attempt to make the Daytona 500. MBM does not have a charter for the No. 66, meaning he must qualify for the race if there are more than 40 cars entered.

Gase has 208 Xfinity starts and has competed full-time since 2014. Last year he drove for Go Green Racing and finished 20th in the standings.

He also has 30 Cup starts since 2014.

“I am very excited and thankful for the opportunity Carl (Long) and MBM Motorsports is giving me this year,” Gase said in a press release. “Every offseason is stressful when you don’t know what your plans for the following season will be. This offseason by far has been the most stressful of my career with some unforeseen things happening. One evening I was sitting in my office trying to figure out what my next move should be and then out of the blue Carl gave me a call and we talked for about two hours over the phone and now here we are. MBM Motorsports has grown and improved their program a lot over the last two years, especially the end of last season. I am very excited to be a part of that growth in 2019.”

Eternal Fan, Donate Life, Medline, Agri Supply, Pro Master and Page Construction will be among the partners supporting Gase this season.

“Having an experienced driver in Joey Gase to start our season is a huge blessing,” MBM team owner Carl Long said in the press release. “He has worked hard to bring sponsorship to MBM. Today’s driver has to be gifted in handling a car and promotions. Lucky for us Joey is one of the best in all of NASCAR at doing both. Look for us to turn heads this year!”

 

Ryan Truex to drive for Tommy Baldwin Racing at Daytona

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Ryan Truex will attempt to make the Daytona 500 driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing, the team announced Wednesday.

The team does not have a charter for the No. 71 Chevrolet.

“I am very thankful to TBR and Tommy Baldwin for this opportunity and can’t wait to get to Daytona and back in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car,” Ryan Truex said in a statement from the team. “The pressure is on to make it into the race, but Tommy is a true racer, and I know he will put everything into the car to give us a great shot.”

“I’m excited to have Ryan back in a Tommy Baldwin Racing car,” team owner Tommy Baldwin said in a statement. “We had success at Daytona in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, in the past. I’ve known the Truex family a very long time, and it’s special that we’ll be able to compete in the Daytona 500 together, and hopefully more races as the year goes on. We are still in search of a primary sponsor that we’re hoping to put together in time to give TBR a great run this year!”

Truex, the younger brother of Martin Truex Jr., last ran in Cup in 2014 when he competed in 23 races for BK Racing. Truex ran for Kaulig Racing last year in the Xfinity Series, finishing 12th in the points. Truex drove for Hattori Racing in 2017 in the Truck Series, placing ninth in points.