The second part of Chip Ganassi Racing (yes, it’s quite easy to forget there’s two drivers there) is Jamie McMurray, who has been with the organization for 16 years now. He kind of flies as an underdog, though, because whenever anyone hears the name Ganassi, they think of Kyle Larson–and for good reason considering he had his breakout season in 2017. With the addition of Larson to the mix, though, the entire Ganassi organization improved, and that includes Jamie McMurray.
Cup Series History
Jamie Mac jumped onto the scene way back in 2002 when he jumped into a Cup Series car and immediately went to victory lane while subbing for Sterling Marlin. Since then, he’s been a full-time driver in NASCAR’s top series while racing exclusively for Chip Ganassi. Overall, McMurray has posted seven total wins, including a career-high three trips to victory lane back during the 2010 season. His most recent win, though, was at Talladega back in 2013.
Predictions for the Upcoming Season
As mentioned before, Jamie McMurray has seen a significant improvement in performance ever since Kyle Larson has joined him as a teammate four years ago. And by “significant improvement,” I mean that the last four seasons have, statistically, been McMurray’s 2nd-, 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-best seasons over his extensive Cup Series career. Additionally, last year, Jamie was able to post top 10 finishes in nearly half of the 36 races, which has been his best performance since 2004. But the real question is whether or not that improvement will continue in 2018.
Overall Expectations: The thing about Jamie McMurray is that he’s a consistent driver, he’s not a flashy driver. That means that McMurray probably isn’t going to win a race, and he’s not going to dominate any races, either. There’s a reason Kyle Larson has led more laps in the Cup Series through his first four seasons than Jamie McMurray has in his sixteen total seasons. The good news for Jamie Mac fans, though, is that he has actually been one of the best finishers on 1.5-mile tracks over the last year-and-a-half, and that pays dividends when the majority of the schedule is on that track length. In 2018, I’m expecting McMurray to end up in the teens when it comes to top 10 finishes but only have a handful of top 5s.
Can Jamie McMurray win a Cup Series race in 2018? It’s not impossible, but it’s not likely. There’s a reason Jamie McMurray hasn’t won a non-restrictor plate race since the 2010 season. It’s also worth noting that Jamie is going to turn 42 years old this year, which makes you wonder whether or not Chip Ganassi will be looking to replace him sometime soon. There hasn’t been a word on McMurray’s contract situation in quite a while…
Jamie McMurray as a Fantasy Option in 2018
DraftKings: Chances are Jamie McMurray is going to too high-priced to be a viable option in DraftKings during the 2018 season. Pretty much the only time he’s going to be a good option is when he has a poor qualifying effort, and that rarely happened in 2017–in fact, McMurray had the 6th-best averaging starting spot last season. There are definitely Fantasy NASCAR options where Jamie can be used, but DraftKings won’t be it.
Season-Long Salary Cap Games: McMurray is actually a good option in season-long salary cap games, simply because of his consistency. Obviously you’re going to have to weigh his price and whether he’s going to be worth it, but if you can draft a driver that rarely has finishes outside of the top 20, you’re probably going to have a pretty good year. McMurray only had seven finishes worse than 18th last season, and there’s no reason why that should change in 2018.