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, April 29 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 12:30 PM NSCS ROOKIE MEETING & RANDOM DRAWING 1:30 - 2:25 PM NSCS 1ST PRACTICE 3:30 - 4:25 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE
Saturday, April 30 6:00 AM - 2:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 11:30 AM NSCS QUALIFYING IMPOUND 12:00 PM NXS, NSCS SPOTTERS MEETING
Sunday, May 1 7:30 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 10:00 AM NSCS DRIVER / CREW CHIEF MEETING 11:25 AM NSCS DRIVER INTRODUCTIONS 12:00 PM NSCS RACE
All times above are listed in LOCAL Time
Talladega Driver Tale of the Tape
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet) · Six top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 17.818, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 14.585, third-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, fourth-best · 58 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.277, eighth-fastest · 2671 Laps in the Top 15 (63.7), second-most · 5994 Quality Passes, series-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) · One win, four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 21.810, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 19.427, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 79.3, 12th-best · 94 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.035, 12th-fastest 1921 Laps in the Top 15 (48.0), ninth-most · 3957 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) · Six wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 18.000, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 13.598, series-best · Driver Rating of 93.8, series-best · 84 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.641, series-fastest · 2673 Laps in the Top 15 (63.8), series-most · 4829 Quality Passes, third-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.400, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 18.055, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 82.9, seventh-best · 85 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.196, 10th-fastest · 1812 Laps in the Top 15 (47.6), 11th-most · 4039 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.773, third-best · Average Running Position of 18.022, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 80.6, 10th-best · 93 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 192.743, 13th-fastest · 1993 Laps in the Top 15 (47.6), 12th-most · 4095 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) · Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.455, second-best · Average Running Position of 15.051, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 89.5, second-best · 58 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.492, fifth-fastest · 2426 Laps in the Top 15 (57.9), fourth-most · 4472 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) · One win, six top fives, ten top 10s · Average finish of 17.818, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 14.487, second-best · Driver Rating of 88.5, third-best · 74 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.050, 11th-fastest · 2652 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3), third-most · 5192 Quality Passes, second-most
Brad Keselowski (No .2 Team Penske Ford) · Three wins, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 14.786, series-best · Average Running Position of 18.242, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 84.4, fifth-best · 56 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.431, sixth-fastest · 1302 Laps in the Top 15 (48.7), eighth-most · 3047 Quality Passes, 11th-most
Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) · One top 10 · Average finish of 23.000, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 18.843, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 81.9, eighth-best · 6 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.596, third-fastest · 394 Laps in the Top 15 (51.4), seventh-most · 1042 Quality Passes, 13th-most
Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) · One win, three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 19.500, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 17.183, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 81.5, ninth-best · 56 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.499, fourth-fastest · 1390 Laps in the Top 15 (52.0), sixth-most · 3200 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) · Two wins, six top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.091, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 19.379, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 79.9, 11th-best · 70 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.294, seventh-fastest · 1999 Laps in the Top 15 (47.7), 10th-most · 4121 Quality Passes, fifth-most
David Ragan (No. 23 BK Racing Toyota) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 18.444, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 19.744, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 78.9, 13th-best · 69 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 193.634, second-fastest · 1388 Laps in the Top 15 (40.5), 13th-most · 3152 Quality Passes, 10th-most