FULL DISCLOSURE: Forgetting that Jamie McMurray is from Joplin, Mo., was a "duh" moment. I'm now hitting myself upside the head with a restrictor plate, which makes writing somewhat difficult.
I know McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet, is from Missouri. Just never put the McMurray/Joplin connection together after the devastating tornado leveled much of the city and killed at least 134 people.
Before last Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, McMurray discussed the tragedy and his relationship to Joplin. He carried "Hope for Joplin" on his race car.
"I had friends send me pictures of the neighborhood I grew up in, and it's gone," said McMurray, who turns 35 tomorrow. "The only part left of my house was the address on the front wall."
While McMurray's family has moved to North Carolina, he still has friends in Joplin.
"I haven't known anyone that's lost their life," he said. "I have a lot of friends that have lost their homes. A friend told me Joplin would recover; he just didn't know if it would recover in our lifetime."
Previously, before NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kansas Speedway, site of Sunday's race, McMurray has returned to Joplin to fish. He plans to visit today, but not to fish. He said he's meeting the Convoy for Hope at Bass Pro Shops, his sponsor.
"They're sending a lot of supplies that day," McMurray said. "The mayor and chief of police are giving me a tour. Everyone involved with our NASCAR program, whether it's sponsors, team owners or crew guys, all came to me before I could get to them, asking for ways they could help."
Although McMurray moved to North Carolina for his racing career, Joplin always will be his hometown.
"You only know where you grew up, right?" he asked. "Joplin to me was just normal. I think about it with my kid and how much different he's going to grow up than I did because we're going to live in a much larger environment where there are museums and different culture."
'CLOSER' STRONG AT THE END
Weird stat of the season: In Kevin Harvick's three Cup wins this year, he has led only nine laps. Talk about making lead laps count . . .
In his latest surge, he passed leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap of the Coca-Cola 600 when Earnhardt ran out of fuel. Harvick led only one other lap in the race. At California, he passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap to win. Harvick paced six laps at Martinsville.
Harvick's nickname is "The Closer." He also could be called "The Ghost," because he often suddenly appears out of the pack to win.
Harvick has led 108 laps this year (most: 47 at Darlington). The Cup laps leader is two-time race winner Kyle Busch, 852.
With a series-leading three victories after only 12 races, Harvick, second in points, has all but guaranteed himself a berth in the Chase for the Championship.
FEELING FOR INDY ROOKIE
With Tony Stewart's experience in IndyCar racing, he understands the disappointment of J.R. Hildebrand, the Indy 500 rookie who crashed on the final turn while leading the race. Hildebrand said that when he decided to pass Charlie Kimball on the outside, his car drifted high on the track, where there was less grip.
"You feel for him," Stewart, the 1997 IndyCar series champion, said on a Tuesday conference call. "The guy was less than a mile away from winning his first Indy 500 in the biggest race of his life. It was definitely a mistake. He'll look at it a million times and realize what he could do different.
"I thought he kept his composure even when he hit the wall. When he got [the car] going straight again, even though it was dragging down the wall, he was back on the gas still trying to win the race.
"In his interview after the race and [team owner] John Barnes, I thought those guys were a class act."
Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano will appear as themselves in the season debut of A&E's "The Glades" Sunday at 10 p.m. Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet is sponsored by the show Sunday at Kansas . . . The NHRA Super Nationals are at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., this weekend. In last year's Top Fuel final, Larry Dixon defeated Antron Brown . . . The Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam is at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday at 7 p.m. Tom Meents won the racing competition in the world finals in Las Vegas in March. Jim Koehler prevailed in the freestyle competition.
THIS WEEK'S RACE
Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV/Radio: Fox/WNPV (1440-AM)
Race course: 1.5-mile oval
Race distance: 400 miles/267 laps
Race forecast: Sunny, 88 degrees
Last year's winner: Greg Biffle
Last year's pole winner: Kasey Kahne, 174.644 mph
Track qualifying record: Matt Kenseth, 180.856 mph (October 2005)
Track facts: Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are two-time winners at Kansas . . . Biffle led 60 laps, including the last 29, in winning last year's race. Jimmie Johnson was runner-up; Kevin Harvick was third . . . Seven of the 12 Kansas Cup winners have started 20th or lower . . . David Ragan's second-place finish in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 was his career best . . . Joey Logano (third) and A.J. Allmendinger (fifth) each had their best finishes of the season . . . Danica Patrick and Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne return to the Nationwide series Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway (ESPN, 8 o'clock). In her last Nationwide race before she rejoined the IndyCar series, Patrick recorded her best stock-car finish: fourth at Las Vegas. Bayne has recovered from an undisclosed illness.
Wins: Kevin Harvick, 3; Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, 2 each; Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith, 1 each.
SPRINT CUP STANDINGS (Through 12 of 36 races)
1. Carl Edwards 445
2. Kevin Harvick 409
3. Jimmie Johnson 408
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 402
5. Kyle Busch 392
6. Kurt Busch 377
7. Matt Kenseth 374
8. Clint Bowyer 365
9. Tony Stewart 356
10. Ryan Newman 353
11. Greg Biffle 343
12. Denny Hamlin 339
13. A.J. Allmendinger 335
14. Mark Martin 334
15. Juan Montoya 329
16. Jeff Gordon 324
17. Marcos Ambrose 320
18. David Ragan 313
19. Kasey Kahne 309
20. Paul Menard 306