Jamie McMurray claimed his third pole position of the season in qualifying for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.
The Earnhardt Ganassi driver had been second fastest in the final practice session behind team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya. Later on his flying lap he was able to find more than half a second of pace, setting a time of 29.421 seconds, which only reigning champion Jimmie Johnson was able to get close to.
"Happy with that!" said McMurray, who gave his organization its fourth pole of the year, more than any other outfit has achieved in 2010. "It is a lot of pressure when you are good in practice and then try to repeat when it comes time to qualify. But Bono [Kevin Manion, crew chief] did a really good job. He made the right changes. That is just the fastest we could go."
Johnson, who flew back to meet his wife in hospital Friday night following the birth of the couple's first child this week, joins McMurray at the front of the field for Saturday night's event. Chicagoland is one of only four current Sprint Cup series tracks where the Hendrick Motorsports driver has yet to win.
"We are real happy with race trim and thought we would have a good shot at the pole and came close, just a few hundredths off the time that the No. 1 [McMurray] ran," Johnson said. "Left a little on the table in Turn 1, the car was a little uncomfortable down there, but nailed [Turns] 3 and 4 and had a good lap."
Former Chicago winner Tony Stewart was third fastest ahead of Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle in the fastest Ford. Penske's Sam Hornish followed as best of the Dodges, sharing the third row with Hendrick's Jeff Gordon, who celebrates his 600th consecutive start in the series this weekend.
The fourth row was an all-Toyota one with Michael Waltrip's David Reutimann and Martin Truex taking seventh and eighth, ahead of Richard Petty's Paul Menard. Practice pacesetter Montoya was not helped by an early draw, having to go out fourth in the order to set his lap, and ending up 10th after holding provisional pole for a while.
Bobby Labonte was 20th and best among those having to qualify on speed, racing one again for Phoenix Racing. Meanwhile Michael McDowell, Dave Blaney and JJ Yeley failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 183.542 29.421s
2. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 183.281 29.463s + 0.042s
3. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 182.877 29.528s + 0.107s
4. Greg Biffle Ford 182.673 29.561s + 0.140s
5. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 182.605 29.572s + 0.151s
6. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 182.599 29.573s + 0.152s
7. David Reutimann Toyota 182.587 29.575s + 0.154s
8. Paul Menard Ford 182.445 29.598s + 0.177s
9. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 182.445 29.598s + 0.177s
10. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 182.248 29.630s + 0.209s
11. Carl Edwards Ford 182.168 29.643s + 0.222s
12. Kasey Kahne Ford 182.106 29.653s + 0.232s
13. AJ Allmendinger Ford 182.039 29.664s + 0.243s
14. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 181.977 29.674s + 0.253s
15. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 181.867 29.692s + 0.271s
16. Elliott Sadler Ford 181.806 29.702s + 0.281s
17. Denny Hamlin Toyota 181.800 29.703s + 0.282s
18. Joey Logano Toyota 181.653 29.727s + 0.306s
19. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 181.616 29.733s + 0.312s
20. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 181.555 29.743s + 0.322s
21. Mark Martin Chevrolet 181.415 29.766s + 0.345s
22. Kurt Busch Dodge 181.348 29.777s + 0.356s
23. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 181.324 29.781s + 0.360s
24. Reed Sorenson Toyota 181.311 29.783s + 0.362s
25. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 181.299 29.785s + 0.364s
26. David Ragan Ford 181.099 29.818s + 0.397s
27. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 181.068 29.823s + 0.402s
28. Joe Nemechek Toyota 180.929 29.846s + 0.425s
29. Bill Elliott Ford 180.796 29.868s + 0.447s
30. Brad Keselowski Dodge 180.385 29.936s + 0.515s
31. Max Papis Toyota 180.331 29.945s + 0.524s
32. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 180.270 29.955s + 0.534s
33. Kyle Busch Toyota 180.192 29.968s + 0.547s
34. Matt Kenseth Ford 180.150 29.975s + 0.554s
35. Casey Mears Chevrolet 180.102 29.983s + 0.562s
36. David Stremme Ford 179.934 30.011s + 0.590s
37. Mike Bliss Toyota 179.689 30.052s + 0.631s
38. Robby Gordon Toyota 179.414 30.098s + 0.677s
39. Scott Speed Toyota 179.396 30.101s + 0.680s
40. David Gilliland Ford 178.701 30.218s + 0.797s
41. Regan Smith Chevrolet 178.436 30.263s + 0.842s
42. Kevin Conway Ford 176.881 30.529s + 1.108s
43. Travis Kvapil Ford 179.342 30.110s + 0.689s
Did not qualify:
Michael McDowell Toyota 179.098 30.151s + 0.730s
Dave Blaney Toyota 178.849 30.193s + 0.772s
JJ Yeley Dodge 177.995 30.338s + 0.917s
Todd Bodine Toyota 177.352 30.448s + 1.027s