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, March 6 10:30 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 12:00 PM 4:00 PM NSCS TESTING 7:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES
Friday, March 7 6:00 AM NSCS GARAGE & INSPECTION BEGINS 10:00 AM NSCS ROOKIE & SPOTTER MEETINGS & RANDOM DRAWING 11:00 AM 12:30 PM NSCS PRACTICE 3:40 PM NSCS QUALIFYING 5:30 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES
Saturday, March 8 7:00 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 8:30 - 9:20 AM NSCS PRACTICE 11:30 AM 12:30 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE 1:15 PM NNS RACE 4:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES
Sunday, March 9 6:00 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 8:30 - 9:30 AM Speedway Children's Charity Track Walk 10:00 AM NSCS DRIVER / CREW CHIEF MEETING 11:30 AM NSCS DRIVER INTRODUCTIONS 12:00 PM NSCS RACE
All times above are listed in LOCAL Time
Las Vegas Driver Tale of the Tape
Greg Biffle (No. 16 Red Cross Ford) · Two top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.8 · Average Running Position of 10.7, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 103.0, fourth-best · 150 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 483 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.361 mph, fourth-fastest · 1,754 Laps in the Top 15 (72.4%), fifth-most · 270 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) · One win, four top fives, five top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.7 · Average Running Position of 10.3, third-best · Driver Rating of 102.8, fifth-best · 110 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 500 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.333 mph, sixth-fastest · Series-high 1,904 Laps in the Top 15 (78.5%) · Series-high 358 Quality Passes
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Mountain Dew Kickstart Chevrolet) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 15.6 · Average Running Position of 14.9, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 88.2, ninth-best · 90 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 532 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.982 mph, eighth-fastest · 1,590 Laps in the Top 15 (65.6%), eighth-most · 284 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford) · Two wins, four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 9.7 · Average Running Position of 11.6, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 98.8, sixth-best · 155 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 571 Green Flag Passes, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.031 mph, seventh-fastest · 1,768 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9%), fourth-most · 344 Quality Passes, second-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 15.4 · Average Running Position of 10.0, second-best · Driver Rating of 103.8, second-best · 177 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 491 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.356 mph, fifth-fastest · 1,870 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), second-most · 334 Quality Passes, third-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet) · Three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 12.7 · Average Running Position of 11.7, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 94.8, eighth-best · 60 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 521 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.944 mph, ninth-fastest · 1,680 Laps in the Top 15 (69.3%), seventh-most · 267 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet) · Four wins, five top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 9.5 · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 112.3 · Series-high 316 Fastest Laps Run · 499 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 170.622 mph · 1,825 Laps in the Top 15 (75.3%), third-most · 311 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Three top fives, five top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 14.0 · Average Running Position of 14.3, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 87.7, 10th-best · 88 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 539 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.550 mph, 11th-fastest · 1,498 Laps in the Top 15 (61.8%), 10th-most · 245 Quality Passes, 11th-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Three wins, six top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.6 · Average Running Position of 14.4, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 98.7, seventh-best · 193 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.475 mph, second-fastest · 1,551 Laps in the Top 15 (64.0%), ninth-most · 253 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One top 10 · Average finish of 14.0 · Average Running Position of 14.7, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 83.1, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.343 mph, 12th-fastest
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Zest Ford) · Average finish of 18.0 · Average Running Position of 12.9, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 83.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.856 mph, 10th-fastest
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 12.7 · Average Running Position of 11.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 103.4, third-best · 187 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 501 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.371 mph, third-fastest · 1,733 Laps in the Top 15 (71.5%), sixth-most · 298 Quality Passes, fifth-most