SONOMA -- Marcos Ambrose had one of those qualifying laps that might make one wonder, "what if?"

What if Ambrose, the favorite to win the pole for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, hadn't had an engine problem just before he began his qualifying lap Saturday?

Would he have gained an extra five-hundredths of a second that would have given him the pole over Jamie McMurray?

For his part, Ambrose will be happy to start second, but he was still a bit frustrated.

"The motor quit running," Ambrose said. "I lost all momentum coming to the green flag."

Strangely, as Ambrose reached the starting line, his engine refired. That gave him the two options: try to qualify on his second lap with worn tires and a potentially overheated car that had been set up for one hot lap, or go for broke right then and there.

"I just went for it," Ambrose said.

The lap was good enough to put Ambrose on the front row.

"We're thrilled to be on the front row," he said. "Any time you get the front row you have to be proud."

As for the nature of the engine problem, Ambrose wasn't sure, but he hinted that it could be electrical

Contact Darryl Matsuda at 408-920-5215. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrylMatsuda.



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