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McMurray tops Chase contenders for pole

Associated Press

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jamie McMurray bumped all eight of NASCAR’s championship contenders with a surprising pole-winning run Friday at Martinsville Speedway.

McMurray, who did not qualify this year for the Chase for the Sprint Cup title, set a qualifying record with a lap of 99.905 mph to nudge the six championship-eligible drivers who had advanced with him into the final round of qualifying.

Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth, who are both in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field, qualified second and third. Non-Chase driver Tony Stewart was fourth, followed by title contenders Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.

It was a terrible qualifying session for Kevin Harvick, who appeared to twice slap the wall and failed to advance out of the first round. He’ll start 33rd on Sunday, worst of all the Chase drivers.

The eight-driver field will be cut in half after three races, with the four remaining drivers scheduled to compete for the Sprint Cup title in the Nov. 16 finale at Homestead. A win in any of the next three earns a driver an automatic berth into the finale.

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