James Murray of “Impractical Jokers” tells the story of Noah Syndergaard

Co-star of the long-running show “Impractical Jokers,” James “Murr” Murray, was the grand marshal for Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350 and belted out a hearty “Gentlemen, start your engines!” before the NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

“I heard someone say the other day that you can't believe it when you get there, the absolute energy in the air, and my goodness, I feel it,” Murray said before the race. “When you're out there walking around the fans and in the stands, it's absolutely electric. You can feel the energy in the air.”

For the drivers, it was all business on Sunday, but Murray offered some advice for his own work when jokes go horribly incorrect.

“One hopes that the security forces are not too far away,” Murray said.

Murray, his co-stars Brian “Q” Quinn and Sal Vulcano, and his comedy partner Joe Gatto had one such gag with former MLB pitcher Noah Syndergaard when he was with the New York Mets. As is common with some MLB players, Syndergaard would often sign balls before games and toss them to children within the audience.

This time, Syndergaard was signing balls, “but he was working with us, so he was just throwing the balls to Gatto on the show, and the parents were getting mad. And then at one point we told Joe to pick up a baby and say, 'Oh yeah, I'll get the ball.' Noah throws him the ball and gives the baby back to the mom and keeps the baseball, and she freaked out,” Murray said.

“For me it was great fun because I wasn't the one who was punished. So I just laughed. I was safe at the back.”

The next season of Impractical Jokers premieres July 11 on TBS.

“I think you learn how far you can push people, and we always try to stay on the right side of likability. So that's part of it,” Murray said. “Look at me. I don't look like a tough guy. To quote Colin Jost, I have a very punchable face.”

“It helps that we don't look really famous. I look like a pharmacist. People see me and say, 'That guy looks familiar, are my taxes due?' So we get away with a lot more than your typical tough guy.”

Murray spoke to a couple of drivers before Sunday's race, including Todd Gilliland and Corey LaJoie. When asked which driver he would “penalize” – a feature of the show – Murray said Ross Chastain, who used a now-infamous maneuver on the ultimate lap of the 2022 Xfinity 500 at Martinsville.

Chastain went full throttle on the ultimate lap and intentionally rammed his automobile into the wall, using the energy to overtake his rivals.

The move allowed Chastain to overtake several other drivers and work his way into the last of the 4 spots in NASCAR's title-deciding final race. Fans loved it, but Chastain's competitors felt the move was dangerous and never within the spirit of fair competition. The move is now considered a penalty.

“I stole his move,” Murray said of Chastain. “You know, when he was writing on the wall. I stole that move and made him watch me do it better. Even though you can't do it much better than him. That was great.”

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