McMurray Sets Track Record at Darlington to Win His Second Pole of Season
Associated Press via ESPN.com
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Jamie McMurray couldn't help smiling during his record-setting lap at Darlington Raceway. Turned out, he was one of few to leave the track happy.
McMurray set a Darlington record of 180.370 mph to lead qualifying Friday for the Southern 500. Seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon was a whisker behind at 180.323 and Brian Vickers third in 179.987.
Sam Sharpe/US PresswireJamie McMurray set a track record at Darlington in qualifying.
All three bettered the old mark that Matt Kenseth set a year ago.
"I was like grinning in the car because you just don't get to have this kind of lap very often," McMurray said.
It was the fifth career pole and second this season for the Daytona 500 champion. And it came on a day when racers had a hard enough time staying on course at the track "Too Tough To Tame."
Last week's winner at Richmond, Kyle Busch, scraped the wall on his qualifying run, drawing cheers from those in the stands in front of the start-finish line. Busch will start 39th on Saturday night.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked on his second lap of practice and moved to a back up car. He was so spooked by the track, Earnhardt Jr. predicted he'd show up here one year, have another bad run and give up the sport.
That's an attitude "Little E" didn't inherit from his late father -- Dale Earnhardt is second on Darlington's career list with nine victories. Earnhardt finished 19th fastest.
Mark Martin, who won this race at 50 years old a year ago, had the fifth fastest time and will start alongside Ryan Newman.
Roush Fenway Racing star Carl Edwards could not get in on time and used his top 35 position in owners points to make the field. Edwards will start 41st.
Speeds increased again in the Sprint Cup series third visit since a multimillion dollar repaving project smoothed out the rough edges of the six-decade-old, egg-shaped superspeedway.
Where the choppy surface in the past might give racers time to correct and yield a gentle "Darlington stripe," now drivers edge harder into the wall and lead to bigger problems.
"It makes it pretty hairy," said Gordon, who shares the track record of five Southern 500s with Cale Yarborough.
McMurray has had his struggles with Darlington since his first Sprint Cup visit in 2003. He had qualified inside the top 10 just once in nine previous races and has only finished in the top 15 once in his last four events.
McMurray credited his No. 26 Chevrolet for the success.
"When you come somewhere like here, when your car doesn't stick, you hit the wall," he said. "You just hope it sticks. And if it does, you run a good lap."
Friday, August 29 2:30 - 4:00 pm NSCS practice 7:10 pm NSCS Qualifying
Saturday, August 30 3:00 - 3:50 pm NSCS practice 6:00 - 6:50 pm NSCS final practice
Sunday, August 31 6:55 pm NSCS driver introductions 7:30 pm NSCS Oral-B USA 500 race
All times above are listed in LOCAL Time
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Marcos Ambrose (No. 9 STANLEY Ford) · One top 10 · Average finish of 20.3 · Average Running Position of 20.5, 23rd-best · Driver Rating of 68.1, 23rd-best · 8 Fastest Laps Run, 34th-most · 739 Green Flag Passes, 19th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.119 mph, 23rd-fastest · 876 Laps in the Top 15 (33.4%), 22nd-most · 208 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 21st-most
Greg Biffle (No. Ortho Fire Ant Killer Ford) · Three top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.9 · Average Running Position of 13.7, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 91.3, 11th-best · 237 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 993 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.998 mph, 13th-fastest · 3,301 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), sixth-most · 518 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 SpeedDigital.com Toyota) · Five top 10s · Average finish of 19.8 · Average Running Position of 15.7, 16th-best · Driver Rating of 84.8, 15th-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, 15th-most · 865 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.054 mph, 11th-fastest · 2,444 Laps in the Top 15 (57.5%), 15th-most · 358 Quality Passes, 17th-most
Austin Dillon (No. 3 Dow Chevrolet) · Average finish of 19.0 · Average Running Position of 20.6, 24th-best · Driver Rating of 67.3, 24th-best · 1 Fastest Laps Run, 44th-most · 86 Green Flag Passes, 45th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.903 mph, 26th-fastest · 1 Laps in the Top 15 (.3%), 47th-most · 1 Quality Passes, 43rd-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota) · Eight top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 12.7 · Average Running Position of 12.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.5, fifth-best · 190 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,018 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.262 mph, sixth-fastest · 3,415 Laps in the Top 15 (69.7%), fifth-most · 528 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet) · Four top 10s · Average finish of 20.0 · Average Running Position of 19.2, 22nd-best · Driver Rating of 73.7, 22nd-best · Series-high 1,145 Green Flag Passes · 1,965 Laps in the Top 15 (40.1%), 18th-most · 407 Quality Passes, 15th-most
Paul Menard (No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet) · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 20.7 · Average Running Position of 23.3, 27th-best · Driver Rating of 63.6, 26th-best · 899 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · 827 Laps in the Top 15 (21.1%), 24th-most · 208 Quality Passes, 21st-most
Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · Two top fives, seven top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 17.7 · Average Running Position of 18.6, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 74.1, 21st-best · 1,077 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 1,742 Laps in the Top 15 (35.5%), 19th-most · 346 Quality Passes, 19th-most
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