Near the end of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway on Saturday for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the track, Jamie McMurray posted a 75.422-second lap to claim his second pole at Sonoma and his first pole start since Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March 2011.
“We were second and fifth in practice, so we have had a really good car this weekend,” McMurray said. “We were just able to put it all together today. That is really cool. This is a really fun event.”
NASCAR changed the qualifying format for Sonoma, sending groups of five or six cars on the track at a time, with drivers having a set amount of time to run as many laps as they can or want.
The 43 cars on hand to make qualifying attempts were broken up into eight groups, with six cars in the first three groups and six in the other five. McMurray was in the last group to hit the track. Macros Ambrose, also in the last group, turned in the second-fastest lap to claim the front row starting spot next to McMurray.
“First of all, we’re thrilled to be on the front row,” Ambrose said. “Anytime you get on the front row, you have to be proud of it. We had a great Stanley Ford Fusion out there today. It was really hooked up and was good enough to probably get the pole position, but contratulations to Jamie and everybody over there at Ganassi.”
Carl Edwards went out with group five and claimed the provisional pole, holding on to the spot until the final group posted lap times. Edwards wound up third.
“I was really happy with the lap. I made a couple of little mistakes,” Edwards said. “I think I could have done better, but, still, it’s the best position I’ve had starting here and to be anywhere near Marcos Ambrose in qualifying at a road race is an honor for me.”
Edwards will be joined on the second row on Sunday by Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, who qualified fourth. Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five in qualifying.
Below, is the full starting grid for Sunday’s race:
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR