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McMurray Shares Pain Of Hometown Neighbors

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 28 2011

A tornado destroyed the boyhood home of NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray in Joplin, Mo. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

Concord, N.C. – For Joplin, Mo., native Jamie McMurray, never being able to go home again is a stark reality the NASCAR driver could never have imagined.

The massive tornado that cut a deadly swath through McMurray’s hometown last Sunday destroyed the high school he attended as well as the house where he spent his youth.

“They showed pictures of the neighborhood I grew up in and it was gone,” McMurray said Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he will start 35th in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. “I had a friend text me pictures of the house I grew up in; he said the only part of the house that was left was the address on the front wall. When you look at pictures of the house there is no background. It’s hard to figure what you are looking at.”

McMurray said he wasn’t born in St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which lost its top two floors in the direct hit, and all of his family now lived in North Carolina. However, he still has friends in his hometown, which suffered the deadliest tornado in America since 1953.

“I had heard there was a tornado in Joplin, but my first reaction was that there is a tornado in Joplin every year,” McMurray said about last Sunday evening. “I turned The Weather Channel on and realized what had happened. My mom had heard some of the

Jamie McMurray says friends back in Joplin all appear to be safe. (File photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR) (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

stories. It’s just amazing to look at all of the pictures and see the damage going on and see the destruction and what’s happened to Joplin. All of the friends I know there seem to be OK right now.”

Since the devastating tornado struck Joplin, various racing sponsors have called McMurray to ask how they could help.

“Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops was one of the first to call me and ask what we could do to help the people of Joplin,” McMurray said. “He is partnered with the Convoy of Hope, which is located in Springfield, Mo., and they have helped with Katrina.

“I had a friend call and say they needed gloves to help with the search. Irwin tools that are partnered with Roush sent 250 pairs of gloves. A lot of the other sponsors and crew guys and drivers all came to me and asked what they could do to help. I thought that was pretty cool.

“Joplin is home to me … just the way it was. For a long time, it will be about Joplin.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 28 2011
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