Saturday, May 8, 2010

McMurray Snags Pole for Southern 500 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Race

Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR

McMurray will start the new Mother's Day weekend classic Showtime Southern 500 on the pole Drawing 29th in the qualifying order, Jamie McMurray was lovin' the later draw to set fast lap on the 1.366 mile Darlington Raceway oval. Taking his 2nd pole of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the other pole position for the #1 Chevrolet came at California's Auto Club Speedway following the Daytona 500 victory for the Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing team.

In the Past 5 years at Darlington, McMurray's best finish has been a 6th in 2005 when he last drove for Chip Ganassi/Sabates Racing. Back with essentially the same organization absorbed as Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing, Jamie McMurray will be joined by Jeff Gordon on the front row. The second row will feature two Toyota Camrys with Brian Vickers placing was #83 Red Bull car in 3rd and David Reutimann placing his #00 Toyota in 4th spot. The #5 Hendrick Motorsports car of Mark Martin completes the top-5 running order as the defending Showtime Southern 500 race winner from the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Four drivers who experienced off-outings through the qualifying session at Darlington was the #48 Chevrolet Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch's #18 Toyota, Kevin Harvick in the #29 Chevrolet and the #99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards. Johnson could only place his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in 22rd place as the deepest starter within the superteam for the Showtime Southern 500. The points leader by only a small margin heading into Dalington, Kevin Harvick will once again this season face a deep grid position with 35th place. Like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch will also be the anchor to his Joe Gibbs Racing team taking the green on Saturday starting 39th place. As for Carl Edwards, he will be taking a car owner points provisional starting spot after issues with his #99 Roush-Fenway Ford Fusion.

Referred to as 'The Lady in Black', Darlington Raceway requires drivers to address this figurative lady with respect. However, deserving serious respect through this weekend is certainly mothers. For many years, the entire Mother's Day weekend was kept clear of any scheduled NASCAR Cup Series races. That changed in 2005 when Darlington Raceway was given a Saturday night show when NASCAR probably realized that even mothers enjoy a Sprint Cup race. Of Course, Sunday is still reserved for personal Mother's Day activities so the entire race was a win-win.

Alongwith honouring mother's, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Southern 500 on Saturday night will also see some extra commendations go to rewarding the history of NASCAR. Threatening to be forgotten due to the increasing change sweeping through the sport, stock car's premier sanctioning will soon have a monument of their own to acknowledge their heritage. Set within the home base of most NASCAR race teams in Charlotte, the NASCAR Hall of Fame prepares to open on Tuesday, May 11th amidst the major festivities through the second half of May which includes the Sprint All-Star race and the Coke 600 on Memorial Day weekend. In recognition of one of the inaugural class' members, McMurray's #1 Chevrolet will carry the name of Bill France Jr on the rear clip for the Southern 500 at Darlington. Bill France Jr. is of course known not only as the son of the founder of NASCAR but the individual credited for the major advances of NASCAR through the final quarter of the 20th century.

Jason Smith/Getty Images

Since the Darlington Raceway has been playing host to the May night race, the 1.366 mile oval is earning a reputation as a real action track. In the past 5 events, there has been a minimum 23 lead changes per race with as many as 35 exchanges in 2008. This one race date for Darlington has also been renowned as being a sold-out event attracting a solid fan following from the South Carolina area.

The Showtime Southern 500 will receive the command to start engines at 7:30PM Eastern time Saturday night with the race's television broadcast live on Fox.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway
Qualifying Order

Top 10
1) 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
2) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont / National Guard Facebook Chevrolet
3) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
4) 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
5) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
6) 39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet
7) 47 Marcos Ambrose Kingsford / Scott Branded Products Toyota
8) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
9) 12 Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge
10) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford

Other Notables

11) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
12) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia / Best Buy Ford
14) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
15) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
17) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 27.620 178.045
19) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet
22) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
24) 14 Tony Stewart Old Spice / Office Depot Chevrolet
29) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
35) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
39) 18 Kyle Busch Doublemint Toyota
41) 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford

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