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 1 6:00 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS & INSPECTION BEGINS 10:00 AM NSCS ROOKIE & SPOTTER MEETINGS & RANDOM DRAWING 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM NSCS PRACTICE 3:40 PM NSCS QUALIFYING 6:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES
Saturday, August 2 7:00 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 9:00 - 9:50 AM NSCS PRACTICE 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE 3:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES
Sunday, August 3 7:00 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 11:00 AM NSCS DRIVER / CREW CHIEF MEETING 12:30 PM NSCS DRIVERS INTRODUCTION 1:00 PM NSCS RACE
All times above are listed in LOCAL Time
Pocono Driver Tale of the Tape
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two wins, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.8 · Average Running Position of 10.4, third-best · Driver Rating of 105.5, third-best · 312 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.147 mph, third-fastest · 2,521 Laps in the Top 15 (76.6%), fifth-most · 722 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), eighth-most
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet) · One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.8 · Average Running Position of 14.4, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, 11th-best · 79 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.624 mph, ninth-fastest · 2,147 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), 11th-most · 664 Quality Passes, 12th-most
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 14.8 · Average Running Position of 14.4, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 96.0, sixth-best · 176 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.774 mph, eighth-fastest · 2,238 Laps in the Top 15 (64.8%), eighth-most · 701 Quality Passes, 10th-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) · Six wins, 19 top fives, 30 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.0 · Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best · Driver Rating of 101.8, fourth-best · 143 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 1,477 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.014 mph, fifth-fastest · 2,626 Laps in the Top 15 (76.1%), second-most · 827 Quality Passes, third-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 12.1 · Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 109.0 · Series-high 434 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 162.311 mph · 2,404 Laps in the Top 15 (78.9%), sixth-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Five top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 14.0 · Average Running Position of 14.0, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 90.7, 12th-best · 1,668 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 744 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.7 · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.8 · Driver Rating of 108.7, second-best · 272 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.201 mph, second-fastest · Series-high 2,723 Laps in the Top 15 (78.9%) · 819 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.2 · Driver Rating of 91.5, 10th-best · 297 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 1,529 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.869 mph, sixth-fastest · 2,057 Laps in the Top 15 (59.6%), 12th-most · 732 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 12.3 · Driver Rating of 92.8, ninth-best · 96 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · One top five, one top 10 · Average finish of 5.0 · Average Running Position of 13.3, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.0, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.080 mph, fourth-fastest
Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.5 · Average Running Position of 11.2, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.8, eighth-best · 1,522 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.617 mph, 10th-fastest · 2,598 Laps in the Top 15 (75.3%), third-most · Series-high 851 Quality Passes
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.0 · Average Running Position of 11.8, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 98.9, fifth-best · 99 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 1,620 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.830 mph, seventh-fastest · 2,549 Laps in the Top 15 (73.8%), fourth-most · 840 Quality Passes, second-most