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, June 26 7:00 AM - 6:30 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 8:00 AM Starting of Engines is Permitted 11:00 AM NSCS ROOKIE & SPOTTER MEETINGS & RANDOM DRAWING 12:00 - 1:55 PM NSCS PRACTICE 3:30 - 4:55 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE
Saturday, June 27 7:00 AM - 4:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 8:00 AM Starting of Engines is Permitted 11:15 AM NSCS QUALIFYING
Sunday, June 28 7:00 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 8:00 AM Starting of Engines is Permitted 10:00 AM NSCS DRIVER/CREW CHIEF MEETING 11:30 AM NSCS DRIVERS INTRODUCTION 12:00 PM (3:00 PM) NSCS RACE 350K
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · One win, five top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 9.2 · Average Running Position of 14.0, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, fifth-best · 35 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · Series-high 591 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.760 mph, fifth-fastest · 583 Laps in the Top 15 (58.5%), ninth-most · 240 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), fifth-most
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.7 · Series-best Average Running Position of 10.1 · Series-best Driver Rating of 106.5 · 58 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 89.999 mph · Series-high 845 Laps in the Top 15 (76.3%) · 221 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · One win, one top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 20.9 · Driver Rating of 85.3, 11th-best · 50 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 540 Laps in the Top 15 (48.8%), 11th-most
Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · One win, three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 14.1 · Average Running Position of 14.7, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.1, sixth-best · 33 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 572 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.670 mph, ninth-fastest · 627 Laps in the Top 15 (56.6%), seventh-most · 208 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet) · Five wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 8.0 · Average Running Position of 12.1, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 103.4, second-best · 70 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 555 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.932 mph, third-fastest · 768 Laps in the Top 15 (69.4%), fourth-most · 266 Quality Passes, third-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Folds Of Honor / Outback Steakhouse / Budweiser Chevrolet) · Three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 15.9 · Average Running Position of 14.8, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 84.6, 12th-best · 32 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 540 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.638 mph, 11th-fastest · 644 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), sixth-most · 194 Quality Passes, 10th-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 12.9 · Average Running Position of 12.0, third-best · Driver Rating of 98.8, fourth-best · 56 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.727 mph, eighth-fastest · 819 Laps in the Top 15 (74.0%), second-most · Series-high 277 Quality Passes
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · One win, two top fives, four top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 19.1 · Average Running Position of 15.9, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 85.5, 10th-best · 37 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.617 mph, 12th-fastest · 610 Laps in the Top 15 (55.1%), eighth-most · 242 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Jamie McMurray (No. 1 CESSNA Chevrolet) · Two top fives, two top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.7 · Average Running Position of 16.0, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.8, eighth-best · 20 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.742 mph, sixth-fastest · 540 Laps in the Top 15 (48.8%), 11th-most
Ryan Newman (No. 31 WIX Filters Chevrolet) · Two top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 12.9 · Average Running Position of 14.2, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 88.4, seventh-best · 543 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.652 mph, 10th-fastest · 656 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3%), fifth-most · 209 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.4 · Average Running Position of 12.0, second-best · Driver Rating of 98.8, third-best · Series-high 79 Fastest Laps Run · 568 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.993 mph, second-fastest · 773 Laps in the Top 15 (69.8%), third-most · 274 Quality Passes, second-most
Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet) · One win, one top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 18.7 · Driver Rating of 86.1, ninth-best · 52 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 583 Green Flag Passes, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 89.770 mph, fourth-fastest · 183 Quality Passes, 11th-most