Jamie McMurray may not be in the Chase, but he’s happy to steal some of the spotlight.
McMurray on Friday was second fastest in Round 1 of knockout qualifying and fastest in the second round to win the pole for Sunday’s Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The pole is McMurray’s second of the season and 11th of his Sprint Cup Series career.
“We tested here a couple weeks ago, and I thought we had one of our best tests,” he said. “I was pretty excited about getting here this weekend. Our cars have been so fast over the past few months.”
McMurray has yet to win a race this season and failed to qualify for the Chase, but his Chip Ganassi Racing team continues to improve as the season goes on.
“We’ve run well enough to win, and that’s as important to me as going to Victory Lane,” he said. “We’ve been good at every type of race track, and that’s probably what I’m most proud of. That’s an awesome feeling to have as a driver.”
Joey Logano qualified second and led the way for the eight drivers remaining in the hunt for the 2014 championship. Matt Kenseth was third, Tony Stewart fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth.
Johnson seeking ‘great medicine’
Even though he led the most laps in last weekend’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and had a chance at the win, Jimmie Johnson said he felt his opportunity at a record-tying seventh NASCAR title had already slipped away.
Johnson wrecked and finished 40th at Kansas on Oct. 5 and failed to rebound with a strong finish the following week at Charlotte.
“It wasn’t fun leaving Kansas or Charlotte. It was relatively dark, not a lot of sunlight floating around. But you have that,” he said. “I truly believe those moments make you stronger.
“I don't want to be in this position. This is great medicine to sit and watch this championship unfold. It’s going to motivate me (and) all of us on the No. 48 team.”
Testing coast to coast
Five organizations plan to test Tuesday and Wednesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation of the Nov. 16 Cup series season finale.
Taking part in the test are Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Also on Tuesday and Wednesday, four drivers – Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers – will take part in a Goodyear tire test at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Harvick to run for JRM
Cup driver Kevin Harvick will run at least four races in JR Motorsports’ No. 88 Chevrolet next season in what is now the Nationwide Series. Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne will split time in the car in 2015.
Tifft ready for debut
UNC Charlotte student Matt Tifft, who earned a career-best second-place finish in the ARCA race at Kentucky earlier this season, will attempt to make his debut in NASCAR’s Truck series in Saturday’s Kroger 200 at Martinsville.
Tifft, 18, has run a limited schedule in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, ARCA and in Super Late Models. He is driving the No. 0 Chevrolet for BJ McLeod Motorsports.