McMurray lands first career pole

McMurray lands first career pole

Jamie McMurray has earned his first career pole at the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. Previously, McMurray's best start was second at the fall event in Talladega. McMurray's hot lap of 181.111 mph blistered the rest of the field,...

Jamie McMurray has earned his first career pole at the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. Previously, McMurray's best start was second at the fall event in Talladega. McMurray's hot lap of 181.111 mph blistered the rest of the field, only the top six racers broke 180 mph, and just McMurray bridged the 181 mph mark.

Jamie McMurray.
Photo by Greg Gage.
"That's pretty cool, I didn't think we were that fast," said McMurray.

McMurray has been locked in a battle for Rookie of the Year props with Greg Biffle. McMurray leads the by 33 points over Greg Biffle, with just one race left to settle the score. The pole position certainly sets him up for a great end result, while his rival -- Biffle starts 25th.

"It's exciting to come to a brand new race track and run so well," said McMurray. "Before we came here I thought about it and it seems like every time you go somewhere new a couple of guys hit on something whether it's the line or the crew chief and the guys hit on something. I knew we had a good car when we were testing here yesterday. It's my favorite car."

McMurray has the distinction of being the last driver to hold a pole award for a Winston Cup race, as the Ford 400 is the last race with RJR as the primary series sponsor.

Bobby Labonte surprised the field by turning a 180.729 mph early in the session, seemingly sewing up the pole. It wasn't until McMurray's late run when Labonte was knocked from first to the outside pole position.

"It's been a pretty good week so far," commented Labonte. "These guys did a great job with this race car, and we didn't have to do a lot, s hopefully it will stay that way."

Busch series point leader Brian Vickers continues to impress in his Cup time trial efforts. In his last four starts, he hasn't qualified worse than fourth. He takes the green flag from the third starting spot on Sunday.

"Man, I thought the hump we had to get over was Ryan Newman," said Vickers of his lap. "This UAW-Delphi crew did an awesome job getting the car ready for qualifying and I'd like to thank all the fans for coming out today."

Mr. Friday, Ryan Newman, failed to garner his 12th pole of the season, and starts fourth. Newman leads the series with 11 poles this year.

"I'm a little sad that we missed it today," said Newman. "But it was a good qualifying effort. The balance was just a little off."

Jeff Gordon rounds out the top five.

"It was just grip," said Gordon. "The sun came out and the track temperature went up. My car was still balanced real well like it was this morning, and I talked to Jimmie and Brian, but I just couldn't drive it as aggressively as I did this morning when it was sticking so good. I'm not disappointed with where we are now, I'm just disappointed because we were on top of the charts all day and we wanted to back that up."

Forty-eight drivers attempted to qualify for the forty-three car field, failing to qualify were Rich Bickle, Kenny Schrader, Derrike Cope, Kyle Petty and Mike Wallace.

Newly crowned Winston Cup champion Matt Kenseth starts 37th as the point battle turns to positions two through five in points. Just 137 markers separate the contenders as the most heated battle becomes between positions two and three.

Second place Jimmie Johnson and third place Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are separated by 38 points. Johnson rolls off 10th, while Earnhardt starts 39th.

The difference between finishing 2nd or 3rd is roughly $500,000.

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Series NASCAR-CUP