Darlington Record for McMurray
By: Jeff Wackerlin
DARLINGTON, S.C - Jamie McMurray recorded a new Darlington Raceway track record after he put down a quick lap of 180.370 mph in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session for the Showtime Southern 500.
McMurray broke Matt Kenseth's track record lap of 179.514 from one year ago to take his fifth career pole and first at Darlington. It's also the first time in McMurray's nine year career that he's scored multiple poles in one season. He also won the pole at Auto Club Speedway in February.
"I had a real good (turns) one and two," McMurray said about his lap. "Three and four, I just can't run up against the wall like some of those other guys can. I pinched the car off a little bit there. Bono (Kevin Manion, crew chief) told me that a lot of guys were going through one and two good but they were just getting killed in three and four. I was just maybe a little conservative there, but our McDonald's Chevrolet was good."
Seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon qualified second, for the second consecutive year at Darlington, with a lap of 180.323 mph.
"Man, it is just little tiny things that I could have done," Gordon said. "The car was perfect. 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. I knew it was going to be close."
Brian Vickers, who posted a lap of 179.987 mph, was the only other driver to break the previous track record. This will be his first top five start of 2010.
David Reutimann and defending race winner Mark Martin rounded out the top five.
Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne completed the first 10 qualifiers.
Ambrose was the highest qualifying driver among seven drivers that went to a back-up car earlier in the day during practice.
Several drivers that are ranked in the top 12 in points stuggled in qualifying including Kevin Harvick (35th), Kyle Busch (39th) and Carl Edwards (41st).
J.J. Yeley qualified the No. 46 Whitney Motorsports Dodge in the field after Terry Cook left the team earlier this week.
Joe Nemechek, Casey Mears and Mike Bliss failed to qualify for the 367-lap race.
Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 is slated for a 7:30 p.m. ET green flag.
MRN Radio will begin its live coverage starting at 6:30 ET.