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Examiner
  • McMurray greets local fans

  • On Thursday afternoon, a few dozen people packed the McDonald’s on U.S. 40 in Independence. The patrons weren’t in line for a hamburger, though, but to chat and grab an autograph from NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jamie McMurray.

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  • On Thursday afternoon, a few dozen people packed the McDonald’s on U.S. 40 in Independence. The patrons weren’t in line for a hamburger, though, but to chat and grab an autograph from NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jamie McMurray.
    McMurray made a 25-minute appearance to visit with fans and sign autographs before this weekend’s STP 400 at Kansas Motor Speedway. McMurray, who is a member of the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team, didn’t disappoint his fans, many of whom said they consider the Joplin, Mo., native one of their own.
    “I like Jamie because he’s a local boy,” said Kansas City, Mo., resident Justin Campbell. “I’ve got to follow the local boys when I watch the races and stuff.”
    McMurray’s appearance was brief, but he made the most of his time, posing for pictures and eagerly visiting while inking his name on shirts, model cars and trading cards.
    “He is a great person,” said Bob Cowan, who lives in Independence. “He’s as nice as he can be. He’s down to home and acts just like he’s everybody else.”
    McMurray also took a couple minutes to talk about Sunday’s race, which he expects to run quite a bit smoother than in year’s past after the surface was repaved last year.
    “This is one of those tracks that was as worn out as any we’ve had,” he said. “It used to have big seams in it. When they pave the tracks now, it’s incredible how smooth they are, how much grip they have.”
    McMurray also touched on security concerns that have been a topic in recent days since this will be NASCAR’s first major event since Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings. McMurray said a memo was sent out Thursday morning detailing the added security measures that will be in place this weekend.
    “I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t on my mind a little bit,” McMurray said. “But I think anyone, whether you’re going to a concert or anywhere where there’s a large group of people, you’d have a little bit of concern. Plus, with a family, you worry a little more about them than you do yourself.”
    Those issues didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the fans in attendance Thursday. Waiting in line, many of them discussed tailgating plans and talked about how they were able to score tickets.
    “This is the first race I’ve ever been to,” said Darren Stafford, of Lee’s Summit, who brought his sons Kayne, 6, and Jaxson, 4. “I’m going to be working in the pits, checking credentials and that’s how I got my ticket so I’m very excited.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC
     
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