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, June 30 9:00 AM NSCS HAULERS ENTER 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 12:30 PM NSCS, NXS SPOTTERS MEETING 2:00 PM NSCS ROOKIE MEETING & RANDOM DRAWING 3:00 - 3:55 PM NSCS 1ST PRACTICE 5:00 - 5:55 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE
Friday, July 1 10:30 AM - 7:30 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 4:10 PM NSCS QUALIFYING IMPOUND
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 RK Motors Charlotte Toyota) · Three top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 17.3, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 83.5, ninth-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.524 mph, fourth-fastest
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 10 top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 18.0 · Average Running Position of 16.1, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 88.9, sixth-best · 70 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 3,692 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,072 Laps in the Top 15 (60.3%), fifth-most · 2,585 Quality Passes, third-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.6 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 97.1 · 84 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 3,851 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.532 mph, second-fastest · Series-high 2,413 Laps in the Top 15 (70.2%) · Series-high 2,743 Quality Passes
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 · Average Running Position of 14.0, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.0, third-best · 85 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 4,036 Green Flag Passes, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.528 mph, third-fastest · 2,245 Laps in the Top 15 (65.3%), second-most · 2,710 Quality Passes, second-most
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford) · Four top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.1 · Average Running Position of 17.6, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 82.1, 12th-best · 72 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 4,026 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 1,815 Laps in the Top 15 (52.8%), eighth-most · 2,549 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Pepsi Real Sugar Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.3 · Average Running Position of 14.5, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, seventh-best · 3,664 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · 2,030 Laps in the Top 15 (59.1%), sixth-most · 2,333 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Three top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 20.4 · Average Running Position of 16.1, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 85.5, eighth-best · 79 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.471 mph, eighth-fastest
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Folds Of Honor Chevrolet) · Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.8 · Driver Rating of 82.4, 11th-best · Series-high 87 Fastest Laps Run · 3,578 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.509 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,990 Quality Passes, 12th-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.0 · Average Running Position of 13.9, third-best · Driver Rating of 89.0, fifth-best · 2,194 Laps in the Top 15 (63.8%), fourth-most · 2,372 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.1 · Average Running Position of 13.8, second-best · Driver Rating of 92.9, second-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 3,566 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · 2,228 Laps in the Top 15 (64.8%), third-most · 2,453 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Ducks Unlimited Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.1 · Average Running Position of 16.5, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 90.0, fourth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,898 Laps in the Top 15 (55.2%), seventh-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