Jun 21, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
Today in Northern California, he did it again. This time, A.J. Allmendinger was the victim as McMurray posted a lap of 74.354 seconds in the waning moments to capture pole for tomorrow’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.
“I was really shocked that I could run faster on our third run,” McMurray told PRN Radio.
“We went faster every time we went out. We made a couple of changes to the car, and I’m not sure where the speed came from. But it was a really good lap.
“The key here is to get off [Turns] 11 and [then] 7 with the drive, and I could never really get wide open in any of those in first, second or third gear off of those corners. But we kind of had all the rest of it down.”
As for tomorrow’s race, McMurray believes that there will be a major difference compared to Sonoma races of years gone by.
“I think you’re going to see more pit stops when the cautions come out,” he said. “Tires are so important, more important than ever.
“Normally at a road course, you run [the strategy] backwards and everyone pits 10 laps before they can make it on fuel hoping they can get some cautions. But I think you’ll see guys put [more] tires on tomorrow, so it should be a good race.”
McMurray’s teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing, rookie Kyle Larson, had a strong effort in qualifying and will line up on the inside of Row 2.
Carl Edwards will start along side Larson in Row 2, followed by Stewart Haas teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick in Row 3. Ryan Newman and Brian Vickers are in Row 4, and Paul Menard and Joey Logano will roll off from Row 5.
As for Hendrick Motorsports, which has won the last five Sprint Cup points races, they’ll have some work to do in order to push that hot streak to six.
All four HMS drivers failed to make the final round: California native Jeff Gordon qualified 15th, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 17th, Michigan winner Jimmie Johnson in 22nd, and Kasey Kahne in 30th.
“We pride ourselves on being good at the road courses especially at Sonoma, and [being] six-hundredths of a second from making it [to the final round] is disappointing,” Gordon said.
“But I think the bigger disappointment for us is how many guys went out and were so much faster the second time out – and we didn’t pick up. That’s a bit of a concern. Obviously, we’ll talk to our teammates and see what they were dealing with as well.”
Earnhardt appeared to blame his failure to advance from the first round on Tomy Drissi, one of the road course “ringers” in this weekend’s race:
As for Johnson, it’s his worst starting spot at Sonoma since the 2007 race (started 42nd, finished 17th).
Stewart, Ambrose, and Bowyer are all searching for a win that will get them into the Chase, but will have to come from 21st, 23rd, and 25th respectively.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT SONOMA – STARTING LINEUP
Toyota/Save Mart 350
1. Jamie McMurray (74.354 seconds, 96.350 mph)
2. A.J. Allmendinger
3. Kyle Larson
4. Carl Edwards
5. Kurt Busch
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Ryan Newman
8. Brian Vickers
9. Paul Menard
10. Joey Logano
11. Danica Patrick
12. Casey Mears
13. Brad Keselowski
14. Matt Kenseth
15. Jeff Gordon
16. Denny Hamlin
17. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
18. Martin Truex Jr.
19. Greg Biffle
20. Kyle Busch
21. Tony Stewart
22. Jimmie Johnson
23. Marcos Ambrose
24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
25. Clint Bowyer
26. Austin Dillon
27. David Gilliland
28. Michael McDowell
29. Aric Almirola
30. Kasey Kahne
31. David Ragan
32. Cole Whitt
33. Josh Wise
34. Ryan Truex
35. Justin Allgaier
36. Alex Kennedy
37. Timmy Hill
38. Alex Bowman
39. David Mayhew
40. Reed Sorenson
41. Boris Said
42. Michael Annett
43. Tomy Drissi
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