If asked what Jamie McMurray's record qualifying lap this week came in at -- given last week's record qualifying time at Michigan International Speedway of 204.557 mph by Kevin Harvick -- one would probably guess something in the 195-205 mph range. And be off by somewhere around 100-110 mph.
Such is the way at Sonoma Raceway, one of two road courses that NASCAR runs each year (along with Watkins Glen in New York), where the new qualifying record is now just 96.350 mph. You won't hear McMurray badmouth his run, though, as he told AP, "I am so excited, I thought our car in race trim was really good, really good on the long runs. We're not going to change a whole lot, I feel really good about it."
Perhaps he should temper that excitement, however. He is yet to win at Sonoma despite three poles there, including one last year which he turned into a 25th-place finish. He'll also have to watch out for a number of strong drivers running right behind him with Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman in the top seven. At least he'll have rookie teammate Kyle Larson running in the top three with him, alongside A.J. Allmendinger, who qualified second.
And, of course, he'll have to worry about Jeff Gordon, who holds every significant record at Sonoma: most wins (five), poles (five), top five-and-ten finishes (13,17), laps completed (2,123) and laps lead (454). Thankfully for McMurray, Gordon starts in 13th as he attempts to extend Hendrick Motorsports' five-race winning streak.
You can watch it all on TNT beginning with pre-race coverage at 2:00 p.m. ET. Live race coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET with Adam Alexander, Wally Dallenbach Jr., Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds in the booth. The green flag is tentatively scheduled for 3:19 p.m. ET. In addition to the television coverage, viewers with a subscription to RaceView will be able to follow the race online. Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite NASCAR Channel 90 will provide radio coverage.
Toyota/Save Mart 350 coverage:
TV: TNT -- 2:00 p.m. ET
Green flag: Approximately 3:19 p.m. ET
Online: NASCAR.com RaceView (subscription required)
Radio: Motor Racing Network -- Sirius-XM channel 90