Jamie McMurray claimed pole position for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Fontana as teammate Juan Pablo Montoya completed a front row sweep for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
The Daytona 500 winner carried his momentum from last week through to qualifying and claimed his fourth career pole position in only his second race back with the Chip Ganassi's squad. McMurray set a time of 39.185sec at an average speed of 183.744mph, beating the previous benchmark set by Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer early in the session. Montoya got close to beating his new teammate but, in the end, had to settle for second-best.
"I think this says a lot about Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and the cars that they build back there," said McMurray. "Certainly thanks to everybody back at the shop. With me first and Juan second, I am really excited. I am a little bit shocked!"
Montoya was happy despite losing out to McMurray after getting loose at the exit of Turn 4 on his only qualifying lap. His second place gives his team their first front row sweep since Indianapolis in 2007 and also their first since Ganassi and DEI merged their operations.
"I had a really good lap going and when it stepped out, I had to lift a little bit," said Montoya. "Not much, just lifted, but it dragged all the speed out of the car. I was a little bit disappointed. It should have been a really good lap. Still P2, so I can't complain. It is exciting. Jamie [McMurray] won last week. He is going to be on pole this week, and that is the kind of momentum this team needs. It is huge."
Bowyer ended up third fastest, making it three Earnhardt Childress Racing Chevrolet-powered cars in the top three starting spots.
"The motor program at ECR is definitely on its game," said Bowyer. "This weekend here in California, I was looking at the practice run down and every ECR engine is in the top-seven in practice. My hat is off to all of those guys who have worked hard in the off-season and they deserve some credit."
Kasey Kahne (Richard Petty Motorsports) was fourth and best among the Ford runners, running the old 452 spec engine as is every other driver racing for the Blue Oval brand this weekend. Dave Blaney followed in fifth as the best of the Toyotas and also the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers for Prism Motorsports.
Bowyer's RCR teammate Kevin Harvick was sixth, ahead of four-time Fontana winner and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin had led the times in practice earlier in the day, but only managed the 10th-fastest time in qualifying.
Former open-wheel racers Sam Hornish (Penske Dodge) and Scott Speed (Red Bull Toyota) enjoyed good qualifying runs, ranking eighth and 13th fastest, respectively. Ahead of Speed, Hornish's teammate Kurt Busch recovered from brushing the wall in practice to qualify 12th.
Casey Mears failed to qualify for his home race and missed his second event in as many weeks, Johnny Sauter and Terry Cook failing to make the field as well.
Pos Driver Make Time
1. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 39.185
2. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 39.242 + 0.057
3. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 39.317 + 0.132
4. Kasey Kahne Ford 39.363 + 0.178
5. Dave Blaney Toyota 39.364 + 0.179
6. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 39.366 + 0.181
7. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 39.368 + 0.183
8. Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge 39.385 + 0.200
9. Kyle Busch Toyota 39.390 + 0.205
10. Mark Martin Chevrolet 39.400 + 0.215
11. David Reutimann Toyota 39.431 + 0.246
12. Kurt Busch Dodge 39.497 + 0.312
13. Scott Speed Toyota 39.518 + 0.333
14. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 39.542 + 0.357
15. David Ragan Ford 39.566 + 0.381
16. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 39.586 + 0.401
17. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 39.615 + 0.430
18. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 39.620 + 0.435
19. Joey Logano Toyota 39.632 + 0.447
20. Matt Kenseth Ford 39.669 + 0.484
21. Brad Keselowski Dodge 39.706 + 0.521
22. Regan Smith Chevrolet 39.708 + 0.523
23. Brian Vickers Toyota 39.710 + 0.525
24. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 39.710 + 0.525
25. Denny Hamlin Toyota 39.713 + 0.528
26. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 39.729 + 0.544
27. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 39.755 + 0.570
28. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 39.767 + 0.582
29. AJ Allmendinger Ford 39.770 + 0.585
30. Michael McDowell Toyota 39.802 + 0.617
31. Carl Edwards Ford 39.830 + 0.645
32. Joe Nemechek Toyota 39.833 + 0.648
33. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 39.870 + 0.685
34. Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 39.884 + 0.699
35. Greg Biffle Ford 39.928 + 0.743
36. Paul Menard Ford 39.982 + 0.797
37. Elliott Sadler Ford 40.018 + 0.833
38. Kevin Conway Ford 40.158 + 0.973
39. Travis Kvapil Ford 40.229 + 1.044
40. Robby Gordon Toyota 40.839 + 1.654
41. David Gilliland Ford 40.861 + 1.676
42. Boris Said Ford - -
43. Max Papis Toyota 39.889 + 0.704