McMurray tops Allmendinger for Sonoma pole


The Sports Network

Sonoma, CA ( - Jamie McMurray won the pole for the Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway for the second year in a row after setting a new track qualifying record on Saturday.

Allmendinger held the provisional pole after he made a lap at 96.088 mph during the second and final round of qualifying, but McMurray beat Allmendinger for the top starting position with his lap at 96.350 mph.

It was the third time McMurray has won the pole in 12 races at this 1.99-mile, 12-turn road course, located in Northern California's wine country. Last year, the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates finished 25th after starting up front here. His first pole at Sonoma came in 2007 when he drove for Roush Fenway Racing.

"I put together a really smooth lap on the last run," McMurray said. "I didn't feel like I got off of turn 7 or turn 11 near as good as I did the previous two laps [in the first qualifying round]. I was really quick around the corners.

"This knockout qualifying is just an emotional roller coaster, from not making it into the top-12 and having to go back out and bump your way in to then being on the pole. There's a lot of highs and lows that go with it."

McMurray claimed his 10th career pole in NASCAR's premier series. He also became the 11th different pole winner this season.

Allmendinger, who drives the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG/Daugherty Racing, will start on the front row for the first time this season.

"We were in position to have it, so it could be a lot worse," Allmendinger said. "I was more happy in race trim than I was in qualifying trim, so to see the speed that we have, I'm excited about that.

"It sucks when you're that close [to the pole], but Jamie put in a heck of a lap. Congrats to him on the pole. But I think we've got a good car for tomorrow."

McMurray's teammate, Kyle Larson, a rookie in the series this year, qualified third with a lap at 95.942 mph.

Carl Edwards took the fourth spot, while Kurt Busch was fifth.

Qualifying sixth through 12 were: Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Casey Mears.

Brad Keselowski came up 0.007 seconds short of advancing into the final qualifying round. Keselowski will start 13th.

Other notable drivers and their starting positions include: Matt Kenseth (14th), Jeff Gordon (15th), Denny Hamlin (16th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (17th), Martin Truex Jr. (18th), Kyle Busch (20th), Tony Stewart (21st), Jimmie Johnson (22nd), Marcos Ambrose (23rd), Clint Bowyer (25th) and Kasey Kahne (30th). Truex is the defending race winner.

The top-22 finishers in qualifying surpassed the previous track record of 95.262 mph, set by Ambrose in 2012.

All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma, which is scheduled to start shortly after 3 p.m. ET.

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