Jamie McMurray completed a clean sweep of pole positions at Fontana, Calif.'s Auto Club Speedway after being fastest in qualifying for the track's Chase round. The Earnhardt Ganassi driver beat the previous benchmark set by his teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, lapping under the 39-second bracket at 38.859sec with an average speed of 185.285mph.
Nobody got close to McMurray's lap after his run, Elliott Sadler taking second but nearly two tenths of a second off in his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth, a three-time winner at Fontana, earned one of his best starting spots of the season with third and was fastest among the title contenders.
McMurray, this year's Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner but unable to earn a place in the championship play-off, leads the series in number of poles this season with four and is only the second driver to sweep both qualifying sessions at Fontana during the year, as he had previously started from pole at the two-mile track back in February.
"We've got a new engine in this week. This is a place where you have so much wide-open throttle that it's really impressive what we have this weekend," said McMurray, who had set the pace in practice earlier on Friday.
"I'm really glad to get to have that here at Fontana. I learned this morning that you don't get to pick the tracks you have it at. So, Juan has had it a couple of races and I'm glad we got to have it here."
Montoya ended up fourth, continuing his good qualifying performances, while Kasey Kahne rounded out the top 10 in another fast Friday for the RPM Fords. Kenseth's teammate and Kansas winner Greg Biffle was seventh ahead of Chase leader Jimmie Johnson, who seeks a record sixth win at his home track this weekend.
"That was the fastest lap we ran over the weekend so far, so directionally we did everything right and a top-10 starting spot will be great," said the reigning champion following his qualifying run.
Kevin Harvick, who just missed out on victory at Fontana earlier this year, had his usual modest qualifying, ending up 21st and worst among the Richard Childress Racing cars, while Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, who trails Johnson by eight points in the championship, had his worst qualifying of the year with 34th place on the grid for Sunday's race.
"It's not the qualifying run we were looking for," said Hamlin. "We just missed our line a little bit in qualifying and lost time. Here it's pretty time-critical."
Casey Mears was best of the non-guaranteed drivers with the 12th-fastest qualifying lap at the track he calls home, while Mike Bliss and Candian Patrick Carpentier failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 185.285 38.859s
2. Elliott Sadler Ford 184.407 39.044s + 0.185s
3. Matt Kenseth Ford 184.096 39.110s + 0.251s
4. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 184.068 39.116s + 0.257s
5. Kasey Kahne Ford 183.964 39.138s + 0.279s
6. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 183.772 39.179s + 0.320s
7. Greg Biffle Ford 183.767 39.180s + 0.321s
8. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 183.702 39.194s + 0.335s
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 183.552 39.226s + 0.367s
10. Joey Logano Toyota 183.365 39.266s + 0.407s
11. Mark Martin Chevrolet 183.360 39.267s + 0.408s
12. Casey Mears Toyota 183.346 39.270s + 0.411s
13. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 183.271 39.286s + 0.427s
14. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 183.220 39.297s + 0.438s
15. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 183.211 39.299s + 0.440s
16. Kyle Busch Toyota 183.155 39.311s + 0.452s
17. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 183.057 39.332s + 0.473s
18. David Ragan Ford 182.983 39.348s + 0.489s
19. Regan Smith Chevrolet 182.941 39.357s + 0.498s
20. Carl Edwards Ford 182.904 39.365s + 0.506s
21. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 182.797 39.388s + 0.529s
22. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 182.788 39.390s + 0.531s
23. David Reutimann Toyota 182.648 39.420s + 0.561s
24. Paul Menard Ford 182.528 39.446s + 0.587s
25. Brad Keselowski Dodge 182.219 39.513s + 0.654s
26. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 182.089 39.541s + 0.682s
27. Reed Sorenson Toyota 182.089 39.541s + 0.682s
28. Michael McDowell Chevrolet 181.965 39.568s + 0.709s
29. Scott Speed Toyota 181.947 39.572s + 0.713s
30. AJ Allmendinger Ford 181.910 39.580s + 0.721s
31. JJ Yeley Chevrolet 181.883 39.586s + 0.727s
32. David Gilliland Ford 181.452 39.680s + 0.821s
33. Jason Leffler Toyota 181.424 39.686s + 0.827s
34. Denny Hamlin Toyota 181.264 39.721s + 0.862s
35. Joe Nemechek Toyota 181.196 39.736s + 0.877s
36. Landon Cassill Toyota 181.014 39.776s + 0.917s
37. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 180.791 39.825s + 0.966s
38. Kurt Busch Dodge 180.591 39.869s + 1.010s
39. Dave Blaney Ford 179.556 40.099s + 1.240s
40. Travis Kvapil Ford 178.077 40.432s + 1.573s
41. Kevin Conway Toyota 177.222 40.627s + 1.768s
42. Andy Lally Chevrolet 177.152 40.643s + 1.784s
43. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet
Did not qualify:
Mike Bliss Toyota 180.650 39.856s + 0.997s
Patrick Carpentier Ford 179.753 40.055s + 1.196s