McMurray leads all-EGR front row

Jamie McMurray claimed pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Fontana as team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya completed a front row sweep for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

McMurray leads all-EGR front row

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 squad.

McMurray set a time of 39.185 seconds at an average speed of 183.744 mph, beating the previous benchmark set by Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer early in the session. Montoya got close to beating his new team-mate, 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 its first front row sweep since Indianapolis in 2007 and also its first since Ganassi and DEI merged their operations.

"I got loose out of Turn 4," said Montoya. "I had a really good lap going and when it stepped out, I had to lift a little bit, 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 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 programme at ECR is definitely on its game," said Bowyer. "This weekend here in California, I was looking at the practice rundown 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 team-mate Kevin Harvick was sixth, ahead of four-time Fontana winner and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson. His Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Mark Martin had led the timesheets in practice earlier in the day, but only managed the tenth 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 team-mate 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. A.J. 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 
Daytona track repair begins
Previous article

Daytona track repair begins

Next article

Patrick aims to finish at Fontana

Patrick aims to finish at Fontana
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Plus

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson’s journey to the 2021 NASCAR Cup title comes straight from the Hollywood blockbuster scripts. While Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines for both the right and the wrong reasons

Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

Feb 12, 2021