JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jamie McMurray knows something about being fast.
He’s a seven-time winner on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, and has more than 100 top-10 finishes. He won a Cup race in just his second start, and was the Rookie of the Year in 2003.
But he was blown away by the speed he saw on the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice field on Tuesday.
"What surprised me the most is how fast these big guys are," McMurray said. "When you stand next to them and I’m probably a third of their weight, and to see how quickly they explode off the line -- it’s incredible how big and strong and fast they are."
McMurray was standing next to the players because he and Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III participated in a few drills during the Jaguars’ OTA at the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field. They fielded kickoffs from the JUGS machine, did a few line drills, and ran routes and caught passes from the quarterbacks, including rookie Blake Bortles.
"It was awesome to be able to see him and talk to him and hang out and watch him run around and do some stuff on the football field," Bortles said. "That was definitely really cool."
McMurray, 38, said he has become more of an NFL fan as he has gotten older and added that he’s going to try his hand at fantasy football for the first time this season.
"It was nice to get down here and meet the guys and see what they go through," McMurray said. "NFL is an awesome sport. I’m a huge fan to get to watch that on Sunday. It’s fun to get home early on a Sunday night so I can watch the 8 o’clock game that night."
McMurray and Chitwood were at the Jaguars’ facility as part of the 56th annual Coke Zero Powered by Coca-Cola Media Day. It might not be the last time the Jaguars and Chitwood cross paths.
Daytona International Speedway is undergoing a $400 million renovation that is to be completed before the 2016 Spring Cup Series begins. The front stretch grandstand is being rebuilt with three levels and will include additional restrooms and concession areas. Once it’s complete, Chitwood has said he would like to have the speedway play host to a college football game.
A Jaguars preseason game would be something Chitwood would be interested in staging on the speedway’s infield, though he said he hasn’t approached the Jaguars about that yet.
"We’ve not had a formal discussion with the Jags here but we’ve got some great relationships," Chitwood said. "I know Mark Lamping, their president, and we’ve done some nice things where he’s participated in some sports conferences in Daytona. I’ve come up and visited some games with those guys. There’s always an opportunity."