MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Jamie McMurray took a step toward jump-starting his season Saturday by winning the pole at Martinsville Speedway.
McMurray turned a lap of 96.509 mph in his Chevrolet to earn the top starting spot for Sunday's race. He came to Martinsville ranked 28th in the Sprint Cup Series standings and with a season-best finish of 18th in the opener at Daytona.
"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."
McMurray said he was pacing through his team hauler during the qualifying session, and his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing crew was making fun of him for being so nervous about potentially winning the pole.
"I told them, 'Martinsville, the pole, if you get the No. 1 pit stall here, it's huge. I think that can win the race for you,' " McMurray said of the stall he'll use Sunday at the exit of pit road.
Ryan Newman qualified second with a lap of 96.342 in a Chevrolet. 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.
Five-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson qualified 17th.