Jamie McMurray snags Sonoma pole for Chip Ganassi

Jamie McMurray will lead the field to the green flag Sunday. Here's Joe Jennings with the complete qualifying recap...

Jamie McMurray rocketed to the Sprint Cup pole at Sonoma Raceway for the second consecutive year on Saturday afternoon at the picturesque 1.99-mile road course, which is located in the heart of Northern California’s wine country.

Not only did McMurray earn the pole but he did it at a record speed of 96.350 miles per hour, eclipsing the 2012 standard of 95.262 mph, set by Marcos Ambrose. Of his 10 career poles, three of them have come here (2007, 2013, 2014).

Jamie McMurray, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Jamie McMurray, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

“I was really shocked that we could run fast on our third run,” McMurray said, who gained his second consecutive pole at Sonoma.

“We made a change, but I’m not sure where that speed came from. That was a really good lap. The biggest thing here is to get off of (turns) 11 and seven with a drive. I really could never get wide open in any gear – first, second or third – off of those corners. We kind of had all the rest of it down. I’m excited. It is cool. This is my third road course pole (at Sonoma). That is pretty awesome.”

Second quickest and gaining the front row was A. J. Allmendinger in the Kingsford/Clorox Chevrolet. That second place effort by Allmendinger is his strongest since May of 2012, and the best JTG-Daugherty Racing has seen since October of 2010.

“I wished we had stuck to the old qualifying format when everyone made one lap," said Allmendinger. "Going into qualifying I didn’t think we had that good of a car in qualifying trim, but I was really happy with it in race trim. I was cautiously optimistic, and I thought I put in two good laps out there. You can nit-pick and say, ‘I lost a little bit here and there,’ but Jamie put in a helluva of a lap, so congrats to him. We will have a good view tomorrow and should have fun.”

Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Hard-charging rookie Kyle Larson put the Target Chevrolet on the inside of the second row with a run of 95.942 mph, directly behind his teammate McMurray. Carl Edwards filled out the second row in fourth after a late-charge in Round One to advance.

“I didn’t have any issues, and the key to the first session was in waiting a while to go out. (Teammate) Jamie (McMurray) had a couple of good cars from Chip Ganassi Racing, I did think I gave up time in spots, and it would have been nice to get the pole but Jamie was really fast. We had a good day, and I will try and learn as much as I can from today’s K&N Series race.”

Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Danica Patrick, and Casey Mears rounded out the top-12 qualifiers, all of whom came out of the second round of qualifications.

The qualifying format featured two segments -- the first for all entrants lasted 30 minutes and round two for the fastest 12 cars ran for 10 minutes.

In round one, Logano barged to the top in the late going with a speed of 96.177 mph with Allmendinger immediately behind at 96.111 mph and Kurt Busch settled for third quick at 96.091 mph. Next in order were Newman, McMurray, Patrick, Vickers, Mears, Larson, Harvick, Menard and Edwards.

Logano took three laps to gain the top spot as did Busch, McMurray, Mears and Menard. Edwards needed five laps to work his way into the top-12. The top 12 all bettered the track qualifying record. Notables Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon all missed out on a chance at pole.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. timed in 17th, Kyle Busch 20th, Tony Stewart 21st, road-racing ace Marcos Ambrose 23rd and Clint Bowyer, who led the way during during final practice, was 25th. Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne also had poor showings in 26th and 30th

With only 43 cars present, there are no DNQ's.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Event Sonoma
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Marcos Ambrose , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , Carl Edwards , Chip Ganassi , Clint Bowyer , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Austin Dillon , Danica Patrick , Kyle Busch , Kyle Larson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing
Article type Qualifying report
Tags aj allmendinger, chip ganassi, jamie mcmurray, kyle larson, nascar, qualifying