SONOMA -- Jamie McMurray ran a lap of 94.986 mph to win the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday.
Marcos Ambrose was second and will start on the outside of Row 1. Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle locked down Row 2.
NASCAR's new qualifying format for Cup Series road races made its debut Saturday, Groups of five or six drivers were on the track at the same time and allowed five minutes to turn a maximum of three laps. Groupings were determined by Friday's practice times with the slower groups leading off and the fastest drivers going last.
McMurray was in that last group with Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya and Casey Mears.
Ambrose, who was fastest Friday, was the pole favorite, but he had an engine problem as he approached his first lap. His motor shut off, then restarted just before Ambrose began his hot lap, costing him momentum. Even so, he put up a lap of 94.924 mph, which was the best of the day -- briefly.
But moments later, McMurray came around on his lap and jumped to the top of the time sheets.
The pole for McMurray was his second at Sonoma. This time, he's hoping for a better result than the last time he started first, back in 2007. In that race, he finished 37th after a poor start.
"I remember sitting on the pole the last time and not sleeping the whole night worrying about strategy," McMurray said. "When I got to Turn 1, I ran off the track and came out 35th of 40th."
This time, McMurray says he's not going to worry about strategy.
"I'm going to let everyone else worry about it and I'll just do what they tell me," he said.
Contact Darryl Matsuda at 408-920-5215. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrylMatsuda.