SONOMA, Calif. (AP) - Jamie McMurray was the surprise pole-winner Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.
McMurray topped favorite Marcos Ambrose with a fast lap around the 1.99-mile course. NASCAR for the first time used group qualifying and McMurray and Ambrose were together in the final group.
Ambrose first took the pole, was passed by McMurray and made one additional attempt to win the pole. He said after his motor sputtered right before he took the green flag, causing him to lose all his momentum.
Carl Edwards qualified third and was followed by teammate Greg Biffle as Ford drivers took three of the first four spots.
Defending race winner Clint Bowyer qualified fifth.
It was McMurray's ninth career Sprint Cup pole, but first of the year. He also won the pole at Sonoma in 2007.