Jamie McMurray won his second consecutive pole at Sonoma Raceway after a final run in the closing minutes of Knockout Qualifying with a track record qualifying speed of 96.350 mph. This is his third pole at Sonoma and his tenth series career pole.
McMurray is the eleventh different pole winner this season and his qualifying speed set the eleventh track record this year.
He spoke about the challenges of the new qualifying procedure, saying, “This Knockout Qualifying is just an emotional roller coaster, from not making it into the top twelve and then having to go out and bump your way in, to then being on the pole. There’s a lot of highs and lows that go into it.”
McMurray hopes to translate this pole into a better finish than his previous two poles that resulted in disappointing finishes of 37th and 25th.
“This race is about having good strategy and having a little bit of luck,” he explained. “It’s about not getting run into in Turn 4 or Turn 7 on a restart. I’ve run enough races here that I’ve had every issue you could have.”
He concluded by stating, “You have to put it all together. You have to have good strategy, you have to have a good car and you have to make good decisions as a driver.”
AJ Allmendinger will start on the outside pole in second place. “
I felt like I put in two good laps out there. You can nitpick and say I lost a little bit here and there but Jamie put in a hell of a lap, congrats to him,” Allmendinger said.
McMurray’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, rookie Kyle Larson, qualified third. Larson was happy with his starting position but realizes that the race will provide an opportunity to improve and gain valuable experience.
“I’ve still got a lot more to learn, especially when I get a few laps on the tires,’’ Larson said. “I struggle with that. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot throughout the race. I’ve just got to try to stay out of trouble.’’
Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch round out the top five for Sunday’s starting lineup. Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Joey Logano complete the top ten starting positions. Danica Patrick and Casey Mears will start in eleventh and twelfth, respectively.
The teams were unsure what to expect with the new qualifying format at Sonoma but the two sessions ran smoothly with no on-track incidents. Surprisingly, no Hendrick Motorsports Cars advanced to the final round of top twelve drivers.
Other notables who did not advance to the last session include Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski.
Television pre-race coverage for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race will begin at 2 p.m. ET on TNT. The green flag start is scheduled for approximately 3:19 ET.
Complete Starting Lineup for Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway
|3||42||Kyle Larson #||95.942||74.670|
|17||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||95.461||75.046|
|18||78||Martin Truex Jr.||95.451||75.054|
|24||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||95.136||75.303|
|26||3||Austin Dillon #||95.028||75.388|
|32||26||Cole Whitt #||94.734||75.622|
|34||83||Ryan Truex #||94.562||75.760|
|35||51||Justin Allgaier #||94.491||75.817|
|37||40||Timmy Hill – DC1||94.012||76.203|
|38||23||Alex Bowman #||93.867||76.321|
|39||44||David Mayhew – DC2||93.741||76.423|
|42||7||Michael Annett #||92.282||77.632|