For the second year in a row, Jamie McMurray will lead the field to the green for the Toyota SaveMart 350 as he scored the Coors Light Pole Award on Saturday morning. McMurray’s lap of 74.354 seconds would mark a new track record, besting the previous record set by Marcos Ambrose in 2012.
For McMurray, it marks the 10th career pole and his third at Sonoma Raceway.
“Our car all weekend long hasn’t been good on the first lap,” McMurray said. “We always are surprised that a car is quicker the second time out, but we have a good car. The drive off of 11 and 7 is so hard here and I didn’t feel like it was that good, but we had a good balance.”
A.J. Allmendinger would qualify second for his second top-10 start of 2014 as he looks to repeat the victory success that he experienced last year on the road courses in the Nationwide Series.
“To see the speed that we have, I’m excited about that as we had a better car in race trim than we did in qualifying trim in practice,” A.J. Allmendinger commented.
Rookie Kyle Larson would qualify third for his fifth top 10 start of the 2014 season, followed by Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick qualified sixth, followed by Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Casey Mears.
Brad Keselowski, who got knocked out of the top 12 in the final minutes, will start 13th followed by Matt Kenseth and current points leader Jeff Gordon.
“The first run out – I felt like there was a couple things that I did wrong and ultimately, I think that cost us enough to make it through,” Gordon commented. “The biggest thing for us to figure out is how guys were getting quicker on their second runs. We had a good strong run going, but I just got loose in the esses. We got a good racecar, but we certainly needed a faster car for qualifying. But with the tires the way they are, I don’t think track position will be as important.”
Gordon added that he loves the new qualifying format and while he wishes that he was in it, he is looking forward to watching the top-12.
Denny Hamlin will start 16th, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., defending race winner Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch.
Tony Stewart will start 21st, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Marcos Ambrose, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2012 race winner Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon.