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McMurray races to Southern 500 pole

by Pete McCole
Friday, May 07, 2010

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Jamie McMurray
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Jamie McMurray notched his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup pole with a record setting lap to top the field in Friday’s qualifying session for Saturday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

McMurray posted a top speed of 180.370 mph to break the previous track record of 179.514 mph set by Matt Kenseth in this same event last year and knock Jeff Gordon off the top spot.

Friday’s pole was the second of the season for the Daytona 500 winner, coming just two weeks after his second-place showing at Talladega.

“We had a really good car in practice and I think that almost puts more pressure on you to go out and back that up (in qualifying).,” said McMurray. “This is one of those racetracks where you really can’t be too aggressive, so I was pretty impressed with the grip the car had thru turns one and two.

“(Crew Chief) Bono (Manion) had came on the radio and said everyone was getting through one and two pretty good , but they were losing it in three and four, so I was maybe a little bit too conservative in turns three and four but it was still enough.”

Jeff Gordon also eclipsed the track record with a top speed of 180.323 mph, but came up less than a tenth of a second short of beating out McMurray and settled for a runner-up effort. Brian Vickers followed with a lap of 179.987 mph to take third.

“I knew it was going to be close. The car was perfect,” said Gordon of his qualifying effort. “The car was better than the driver was right there. We've been getting a little bit loose over there off of two. The car stuck better than I thought it was going to. I committed to the entry and got it through the middle. I think I wimped out a little bit on the exit.

From that point on, I thought we still had a good lap going and just didn't want to mess it up in three and four. I got through there pretty good.”

David Reutimann grabbed fourth place with a lap just under the previous track record with a speed of 179.252. Martin held onto the fifth starting spot with a lap of 179.148 mph.

With temperatures soaring well into the 90’s, the track speeds started out fast and only got faster as qualifying progressed through the sweltering afternoon session.

“This place is pretty intense. Man, it gets your attention,” said Reutimann. “The speeds just kept going up and up as the shade goes down.”

The track known as the “Track Too Tough To Tame” had already reared it’s head earlier in the day, as no fewer than 10 cars  - including McMurray’s - made contact with the wall during the days first two practice sessions

Kyle Busch pancaked the wall during the first practice session and found the wall again on his qualifying run, relegating him to a 39th-place starting spot. Reed Sorenson looped his car in his qualifying attempt and will start 36th in his third start of 2010.

Joe Nemechek, Casey Mears and Mike Bliss failed to make the show for Saturday’s race.

Results

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 180.370 27.264 Leader
2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet National Guard Facebook / DuPont 180.323 27.271 -0.007
3 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 179.987 27.322 -0.058
4 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 179.252 27.434 -0.170
5 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 179.148 27.450 -0.186
6 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 179.056 27.464 -0.200
7 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Kingsford / Scott Products 179.037 27.467 -0.203
8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 178.919 27.485 -0.221
9 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 178.835 27.498 -0.234
10 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 178.802 27.503 -0.239
11 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 178.789 27.505 -0.241
12 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Insignia / Best Buy 178.569 27.539 -0.275
13 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 178.549 27.542 -0.278
14 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 178.432 27.560 -0.296
15 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 178.277 27.584 -0.320
16 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 178.238 27.590 -0.326
17 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 178.045 27.620 -0.356
18 55 Michael McDowell Toyota Prism Motorsports 177.942 27.636 -0.372
19 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 177.890 27.644 -0.380
20 98 Paul Menard Ford Turtle Wax / Menards 177.858 27.649 -0.385
21 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 177.588 27.691 -0.427
22 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 177.550 27.697 -0.433
23 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 177.467 27.710 -0.446
24 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice / Office Depot 177.403 27.720 -0.456
25 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 177.390 27.722 -0.458
26 7 Robby Gordon Toyota BAMVIP.com / James Otto - Whitney Duncan 177.326 27.732 -0.468
27 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet The Hartford 177.313 27.734 -0.470
28 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 177.166 27.757 -0.493
29 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal Black 176.676 27.834 -0.570
30 46 J.J. Yeley Dodge Whitney Motorsports 176.562 27.852 -0.588
31 26 David Stremme Ford Air National Guard 176.245 27.902 -0.638
32 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 176.094 27.926 -0.662
33 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 176.075 27.929 -0.665
34 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 176.031 27.936 -0.672
35 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 175.999 27.941 -0.677
36 132 Reed Sorenson Toyota Braun Racing 175.987 27.943 -0.679
37 164 Todd Bodine Toyota Gunselman Motorsports 175.980 27.944 -0.680
38 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Hunt Brothers Pizza 175.760 27.979 -0.715
39 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Doublemint 175.698 27.989 -0.725
40 34 Travis Kvapil Ford A&W All American Food 175.359 28.043 -0.779
41 99 Carl Edwards+ Ford Aflac 174.124 28.242 -0.978
42 37 Kevin Conway+* Ford Extenze 172.372 28.529 -1.265
43 13 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 175.484 28.023 -0.759
Did Not Qualify
44 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota FrontRowJoe.com 174.935 28.111 -0.847
45 36 Casey Mears Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 173.920 28.275 -1.011
46 09 Mike Bliss Chevrolet Phoenix Construction / GracewayPharmaceuticals 173.369 28.365 -1.101

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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