Jamie McMurray claimed the pole for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway with a lap time of 75.422 seconds in the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet during pole qualifying at the track on Saturday. It’s his first pole since claiming the top spot at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March 2011. It’s also McMurray’s second-career pole at Sonoma.
“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.”
Marcos Ambrose will start his No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford alongside McMurray on the front row after posting a qualifying time of 75.471 seconds. The No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards qualified third.
“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 congratulations to Jame and everybody over there at Ganassi.”
The No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle was fourth-fastest in qualifying. Giving RFR a sweep of the second row. Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five in qualifying in the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
Instead of cars going out on the track one at a time for two laps apiece, NASCAR implemented a different qualifying procedure for Sonoma, putting groups of cars on track together and giving them a set amount of time to post the fastest lap possible. Cars were split into eight groups, with six drivers making up each of the first three groups and five drivers in each of the other five.
Both McMurray and Ambrose made laps with the final group. Edwards went out with group five and was fast enough to claim the provisional pole, at the time. He held on to the provisional top spot until the last group made laps.
“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.”
Forty-three cars, the exact number needed for a full race field, made qualifying attempts, so all who made laps in qualifying received spots on the starting grid for Sunday.