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."
Thursday, May 26 10:30 AM NSCS HAULERS ENTER 10:30 AM-7:00 PM NSCS REGISTRATION OPEN 11:00 AM-8:30 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 1:00 PM NSCS ROOKIE MEETING, SPOTTER MEETING, & RANDOM DRAWING 2:00 PM-3:25 PM NSCS 1ST PRACTICE 7:15 PM NSCS QUALIFYING (MULTI-VEHICLE / THREE ROUNDS)
Friday, May 27 No on-track activity
Saturday, May 28 8:00 AM-4:30 PM NSCS REGISTRATION OPEN 8:00 AM-4:30 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 10:00 AM-10:55 AM NSCS 2ND PRACTICE 1:00 PM-1:50 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE
Greg Biffle (No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion) · Six top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.045, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 15.560, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, eighth-best · 313 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.285, 10th-fastest · 4327 Laps in the Top 15 (54.7), 12th-most · 759 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · Ten top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 13.500, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 9.732, second-best · Driver Rating of 106.1, second-best · 499 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 177.151, second-fastest · 6202 Laps in the Top 15 (78.4), second-most · 1094 Quality Passes, second-most
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS) · One win, seven top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 18.909, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 15.798, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 87.2, 11th-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.146, 13th-fastest · 4552 Laps in the Top 15 (57.6), 10th-most · 784 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS) · One top 10 · Average finish of 13.000, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 13.474, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 85.3, 12th-best · 21 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.500, fifth-fastest · 978 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6), fourth-most · 167 Quality Passes, 13th-most
Carl Edwards (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · One win, seven top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 10.545, second-best · Average Running Position of 14.126, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, seventh-best · 147 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.270, 11th-fastest · 5130 Laps in the Top 15 (64.9), sixth-most · 961 Quality Passes, third-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · Five top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.762, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 11.920, third-best · Driver Rating of 94.9, fifth-best · 288 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.472, sixth-fastest · 5547 Laps in the Top 15 (73.9), third-most · 873 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS) · Three wins, six top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 13.864, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 15.398, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 87.7, 10th-best · 270 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.295, ninth-fastest · 4975 Laps in the Top 15 (62.9), eighth-most · 842 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS) · Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 14.909, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 8.563, series-best · Driver Rating of 109.0, series-best · 699 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 177.226, series-fastest · 6718 Laps in the Top 15 (85.0), series-most · 1102 Quality Passes, series-most
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.955, third-best · Average Running Position of 13.267, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 97.4, third-best · 689 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.647, third-fastest · 4944 Laps in the Top 15 (62.5), ninth-most · 922 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · Two wins, ten top fives, 17 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.955, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 13.906, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.5, fourth-best · 428 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.537, fourth-fastest · 5187 Laps in the Top 15 (65.6), fifth-most · 939 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford Fusion) · One win, two top fives, five top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.538, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 14.069, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 87.8, ninth-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.402, eighth-fastest · 2687 Laps in the Top 15 (56.7), 11th-most · 545 Quality Passes, 11th-most
Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion) · One win, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 9.571, series-best · Average Running Position of 12.658, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 93.6, sixth-best · 120 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.435, seventh-fastest · 3216 Laps in the Top 15 (64.7), seventh-most · 711 Quality Passes, 10th-most
All this junk posted is simply stuff I use weekly to accumulate a pre-practice driver rating. It's an easy weekly process. How those ratings work won't be shared, but all the data needed for handicapping should be posted somewhere here. Good luck week-to-week in any betting endeavor. Hope the info helps. - MR