Jamie McMurray took a step toward jump-starting his NASCAR season Saturday by winning the pole at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
McMurray turned a lap of 96.509 mph in his Chevrolet to earn the top starting spot for today’s race. He came to Martinsville ranked 28th in the Sprint Cup Series standings, with a season-best finish of 18th in the Daytona 500.
“This is really big for our team,” said McMurray. “We’ve had some really good cars, and for the most part, the short tracks is where we’ve run the best. But we got caught up in that wreck at Phoenix and at Bristol got caught up in a wreck. It just seems like we’ve had really bad luck. But I hope this turns around for us.”
Ryan Newman qualified second with a lap of 96.342 mph in a Chevrolet. Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne qualified third in a Toyota and was followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Joey Logano and three-time defending race winner Denny Hamlin.
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AJ Allmendinger was sixth in a Ford, and was followed by Bobby Labonte, David Reutimann and Kevin Harvick. Regan Smith rounded out the top 10. Five-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson qualified 17th, and Vancouver, Wash., native Greg Biffle qualified 33rd.
But qualifying results were overshadowed by tire troubles for the second time in three races. The tires Goodyear brought to Martinsville are leaving marbles made of rubber all over the track.
Johnny Sauter passed Kyle Busch one lap before the finish to win the Trucks Series race at Martinsville Speedway. Sauter posted his first win of the season, and third in 65 career series starts. Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen signed with Kyle Busch Motorsports and will make his NASCAR debut May 20 driving a KBM Toyota Tundra in the Trucks Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. John Force raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car in the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also topped qualifying. Paul Tracy is back in IndyCar for a limited run, signing a five-race deal with restructured Dragon Racing.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody’s Fast Relief 500, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, 10 a.m., Ch. 13, 1380-AM