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Season in Review

2019 USAC EMA Ace Sat Alex Murray Action Jacob Seelman Photo Photo by Jacob Seelman


CONCORD, N.C. – Though it didn’t end how he wanted it to on paper, Alex Murray took several positive lessons and plenty of speed from his first year with the USAC Speed2 Eastern Midget Ass’n.

Murray, from Concord, N.C., started off the season strong and actually led the points after the first two races of the season – an impressive show of consistency for the 20-year-old.

However, the wheels for his points chase came off at Virginia’s Dominion Raceway in June, when a radiator hose failure was followed by mechanical issues that left Murray unable to start the second half of a twin-feature program.

From there, the resulting points hole left Murray seeking one goal – victory lane – and while he didn’t quite crack that code by season’s end, he did rack up three fast qualifying times, four podiums and 22 laps led across 10 starts.

Despite missing six races during the 16-race season, Murray ended the year fifth in EMA points, a strong result for his rookie season and a momentum-builder for the future.

“This year was a good year for us; I’m really pleased with how we overcame challenges and learned as we went through the season,” Murray said. “We got better and better every weekend, which is always your goal as a race team. I feel like as a driver, I didn’t necessarily grow from a driving standpoint, but I learned a lot of skills that I needed to be comfortable in the car and got better at making the split-second decisions on the track that it takes to be successful with the Eastern Midgets.

“After sitting out of any type of race car for nearly two years and then kicking off my open-wheel journey with a podium finish at Dillon (Motor Speedway) in April, it’s been an amazing feeling and a great comeback so far, in all of our eyes.”

The biggest hurdle to Murray’s Eastern Midget campaign came after a hard crash at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C., on July 20, which forced him to miss three straight races as a result.

However, his competitive drive never faltered, even as Murray worked to rebuild the car in the shop.

“Southern National hurt us in the worst way; it was a tough one to swallow,” Murray admitted. “We wheel-hopped and got into the wall, which tore the car up pretty badly and forced us to regroup after being inside the top three in points virtually all year long. It was one of those moments that could have beaten us down, but we used it as a motivator to push even harder and come back that much stronger.

“A pair of top-seven finishes to close the year didn’t showcase the speed we were able to find down the stretch, and I feel like with what we know now and everything we’ve learned, we can improve on that going into a new season with a clean slate ahead of us.”

That elusive victory is high on the priority list for the young third-generation racer in 2020, after coming within a whisker of winning more than once early in the year.

“I would’ve liked to have gotten that win checked off this past season; things just didn’t work out in our favor,” he noted. “We were so close – we had the car (to win) at Ace Speedway – and the driver just got in his own head and threw it away. I wish I could have that one back, but it’s got me hungrier than ever and I know we can put all the pieces together to take that last step and take home an EMA trophy.”   Alex Murray. (Jacob Seelman photo)


Murray isn’t planning on contesting the full EMA schedule this year, but he will be back with the tour part-time, while also planning select SCCA road course appearances in the Spec Miata class and exploring potential opportunities to expand into the dirt ranks in either a sprint car or micro sprint.

But regardless of where the young racer ends up on track in the months to come, one thing can be expected to remain: Murray’s familiar No. 22 and his passion to succeed.

“Winning is the goal in 2020, no matter what series or type of car we’re bringing to the track,” Murray said. “That all comes back to my grandfather (Richard Murray). He’s been racing forever and still does to this day. His number was No. 22 and that’s why I carry the same number on my cars, to carry on the family’s legacy in racing and hopefully, to make my grandfather, family and all our supporters proud.

“Last year was a year where we learned and adjusted a lot as a team, and now that we’ve got everything back to where we need it to be, we’re excited to push forward and keep chasing our goals as a group.”.

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Strong Eastern Midget Opener Shifts Murray’s Focus

Photo by Jacob Seelman


DILLON, S.C. – After a podium finish during last weekend’s USAC Eastern Midget Ass’n season opener at Dillon Motor Speedway, the focus for Alex Murray has quickly shifted from finishing races to chasing points.

After all, with Dillon winner Sam Hatfield not planning to contest a full EMA season this year, Murray finds himself second among full-time drivers in the standings, tied with Nolan Allison at 68 points.


With last Saturday’s finishing position as the current tiebreaker, Allison is the effective leader in the early championship chase, but Murray sees a path forward and realizes the time to pounce is now.

“Dillon was really solid for us,” Murray told SPEED SPORT following his third-place finish at the four-tenths-mile South Carolina oval. “We’re not sure whether it was a handling issue or we lost power steering halfway through the race, but to get that finish was definitely a workout, for sure. I’m really proud of this performance for our first race as a regular team, and we’ll see how much we can build.

“This is the kind of confidence-builder we needed early on in this season, and it definitely shows us that we can do this,” he added. “I feel like we’re ready to go win next time out at Wake County (Speedway).”

Murray ran a handful of races at the end of last year’s Eastern Midget campaign, but this season marks the first time he’s running with the series on a regular basis with his Shamrock Auto Care No. 22.

It also comes with some extra effort as well. Murray is a part-owner of his Eastern Midget entry this season, and is adding to that by taking on much of the preparation work back at his family’s race shop.

The 19-year-old recognizes that in order to make a serious effort at chasing the series championship and dethroning two-time defending titlist Jessica Bean, his own input is key to his results on the track.

“When we got this car last year and I made an investment into helping get it myself, I knew it was going to come with added responsibilities and additional time working on it to get it where we wanted it,” Murray noted. “I’ve learned a lot already just with the time I put in to get the car ready to go to Dillon, and I feel like becoming more in tune with the car mechanically will help me not just this year, but in the long run as I go forward.   Alex Murray. (Jacob Seelman photo)

“It’s been a learning experience, but I feel like this process has been extremely valuable for me.”

Murray was also quick to point out that the races he ran in the latter stages of last season will be a big benefit to him in the early stages of this year’s title fight.

He’s already bettered his Dillon finish from last August, and while Murray hasn’t yet competed at Wake County – the next track on the series schedule – he did finish fourth after qualifying second at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C., the site of the second half of the April 26-27 doubleheader.

“The track time we got last year helped me get an understanding of setups, driver comfort and what we need to succeed all year long,” said Murray. “The car is in the best shape it has been since we got it and Dad, Chris (Tessier) and myself have been doing all we can to keep it clean and as fast as possible.

“We’re ready to perform; we know we can win, and now we just have to go out and prove it.”

Also in Murray’s gunsights is the crown jewel of the series’ 2019 schedule, a date at Lucas Oil Raceway on Sept. 7, alongside the premier USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series.

Regardless of how the championship tables may turn, that’s a race that Murray would love nothing more than to take the trophy home from.

“Indy is a huge deal for this series and it’s going to be a true honor to race there later this year,” he said. “We would love nothing more as a team than to be able to leave there with the win and the trophy.”

In the short term, however, Murray is planning on taking this season one race at a time and letting the points fall where they may.

“We know we’re in position right now, and that’s all you can ask for as a driver,” said Murray. “Our plan is to go out, do our best and try and win each race. If we do that and put together solid finishes, the championship will take care of itself as the season rolls on.”

The USAC Eastern Midget Ass’n season continues April 26 at Wake County Speedway.


Murray Hopes To Continue Eastern Midget Growth


CONCORD, N.C. – After a successful USAC Speed2 Eastern Midget Ass’n debut at Dillon Motor Speedway in August, Alex Murray has taken the next step by acquiring an Eastern Midget of his own.

Murray, with the help of his family-owned team, covered a portion of the cost to purchase the car and plans to debut it on Oct. 6 at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C.


The entry will be No. 22 – Murray’s number in Legend cars and late models – and will carry sponsorship from Shamrock Auto Care and CPG Graphics.

“It’s been a journey just to get to this point,” noted Murray. “The car came from Kentucky … it’s actually an old Tony Stewart Racing car, and it’s an awesome piece of equipment. It’s got pretty much everything we need with it, so we should be good to go with everything we need for the rest of this year and going into next year, as well.”

Saturday’s race will mark an important step for the 18-year-old North Carolina racer, who up to now hadn’t had a dedicated investment in his own equipment.

“This is big for me. It’s the first race car I’ve ever helped buy,” Murray said. “It’s hard to race hard when you’re renting a car, because you don’t want to have to pay the crash clause or tear up someone else’s equipment, but when it’s your car you can manage that a little differently knowing that even if you wreck, you can fix it yourself instead of having to give money to someone else.

“I guess it’s a different kind of risk, I’d say,” he continued. “It’s a bit comforting, though, knowing that we’ve got the equipment we need in our own race shop now.”

Though he earned a top-five finish in his series debut, Murray will openly admit that he’s never been an “open wheel guy,” and hopes to soak in the tools he needs to be successful over the races to come.

“This is going to be a lot of learning for me. I’ve been talking to my buddy Connor (Gross), who’s been helping me out and giving me some tips to help my learning curve a bit,” Murray admitted. “We’re really in a small group of people that sets up our own cars and make it work … and he’s the one I was racing the hardest with in my debut at Dillon.

“He’s got this thing figured out and hopefully I can get things clicking before long as well.”

Alex Murray’s new USAC Eastern Midget paint scheme.

As of now, Murray plans to compete in at least two of the final three races of the Eastern Midget season, with eyes on heading to Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C. on Oct. 13 after what he hopes is a successful outing this weekend.

Should all go according to plan, Murray’s goal is to make a run at the series championship in 2019.

“I’m excited to get back in the seat and to have the opportunity to do so, at least, a little more regularly than what I’ve had the past year or so,” stated Murray. “Next year will be tough, with working full-time and my dad not having a ton of time to do outside stuff, but we’ll see. I’m the main setup guy now, so it’s up to me to make it happen more than anyone else.

“I’m hopeful of running most of the year next year, if not all of the races,” he added. “If we’re in the points halfway through the season, I think regardless we’ll go for the championship, one way or another. We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

After starting his career in quarter-midget racing, Murray said that heading into the Eastern Midget field brings back memories of “the old days.”

“I feel like we’re throwing it back to quarter midgets by doing this, really,” Murray laughed. “I’m racing with everyone, pretty much, that I raced with back then and I feel like I can run with them.

“Here’s hoping. We’ll see what happens.”