News & Media

McMurray earns his first pole of '11 at Martinsville

April 02, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Newman second fastest in qualifying for Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500

On Saturday, Jamie McMurray overcame one of his superstitions -- a green car.

On Sunday, he hopes to put his 2011 bad luck behind him.

McMurray's Sprint Cup season may have gotten the boost it needed Saturday when the driver of the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet won the pole for Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.


Pos. DriverMake
2.Ryan NewmanChevrolet
3.Kasey KahneToyota
4.Joey LoganoToyota
5.Denny HamlinToyota

On the second of his two qualifying laps, McMurray sped around the .526-mile track in 19.621 seconds (96.509 mph) to win the eighth Coors Light pole award of his career and his first on one of NASCAR's short tracks.

After a dream 2010 season that included victories in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, McMurray hasn't achieved the results he expected this year. Through five races, McMurray is 28th in the Cup standings and in dire need of a strong finish.

At Martinsville, McMurray is driving a car sponsored by Widia, a manufacturer of precision metalworking tools, and features a green paint scheme.

"This is really big for our team," McMurray said. "We've had some really good cars, and for the most part, it's been at the short tracks that we've run the best. "We got up in that (Lap 67) wreck at Phoenix, and then at Bristol, I thought we had one of the best cars there and got caught up in that little wreck that was on the frontstretch.

"We've had really good cars. It just seems like we've had really bad luck, so I'm hoping. ... I've always been a little superstitious of green, and I showed up, and I saw my car, and I was like, 'Wow, that's not really what I was expecting to see.' But I hope this turns it around for us."

Ryan Newman qualified second at 96.342 mph, followed by Kasey Kahne (96.293) and Joey Logano (96.220).

"I knew my first timed lap was a good one, because I hit the (rev) chip," Newman said. "When I hit the chip going into Turn 3, I knew that the first timed lap was really good. Just got a little bit free on my second timed lap, which should have been a little bit faster, but I think it was four-thousandth (of a second) slower, or a 10th slower.

"Either way, a good effort. I'm proud of the [crew] guys -- to be sixth [Friday in practice] and step up to second today. It would have been fine if it wasn't for McMurray."

Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, who have combined to win the past nine races at NASCAR's oldest track, will start fifth and 17th, respectively.

Because Martinsville moved its time trials from the traditional Friday afternoon time slot to Saturday, Cup drivers ran only their two qualifying laps Saturday, with qualifying order based on Friday's practice speeds (slowest to fastest).


-- Jamie McMurray becomes the fifth different pole winner in six races in 2011; only Edwards has two poles in 2011 (Phoenix and Bristol).
-- Jamie McMurray earns his first career short-track pole in his 50th career short-track race.
-- Ryan Newman starts in the top-10 for the third time in 2011.
-- Joey Logano earns his fourth top-10 start in 2011 and his best start at Martinsville in five races at the track.
-- Three of the past six Martinsville races were won from the front row.
-- The lowest starting position of a race winner at Martinsville: 36th (Kurt Busch-October 2002).
-- The Martinsville race has been won from the first-place starting position 19 times (18 times from the pole and once from position one by points).
-- Denny Hamlin was the last driver to win from the pole at Martinsville (October 24, 2010).

The qualifying time of Joe Nemechek's No. 87 Toyota was disallowed because the front of the car was deemed too low in post-qualifying inspection. Because only 43 cars attempted to make the field, Nemechek will forfeit his 37th-place starting position and take the green flag from the rear of the field.