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Archive for Saturday, July 24, 2004

McMurray claims his first Busch pole

July 24, 2004

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— Jamie McMurray grabbed the first pole of his NASCAR Busch Series career on Friday at New Hampshire International Speedway.

It came on his first try in the car owned by fellow Nextel Cup driver Rusty Wallace.

"It's really cool that we won the Busch pole, especially getting to drive for Rusty," said McMurray, who replaced fired rookie Billy Parker in the No. 66 Dodge.

"I'm still a little intimidated by the guy," McMurray said of his new car owner. "He's one of the guys I don't talk to a lot in the garage. He's always busy, it looks like, but I'm really excited about driving for him."

Wallace said he would drive the car later this season in Michigan and Phoenix, two tracks where McMurray is committed to drive Busch cars for Chip Ganassi, the owner of his Cup car. Wallace said he was very proud of McMurray and his whole team.

"It takes a lot of work by those guys and a lot of money to run these things, and Jamie and the team did a fantastic job," said Wallace, who released Parker from his contract after 11 races in which his best start was eighth and his best finish was 22nd.

McMurray, who will make his sixth Busch start of the season in today's Siemens 200, turned a lap of 130.006 mph on the nearly flat 1.058-mile oval. Ron Hornaday Jr. was second at 129.428, a lap that was more than a half second slower than the pole winner.

Jason Leffler was third at 128.959, followed by Mike Bliss at 128.937, Bobby Hamilton Jr. at 129.898 and Joe Nemechek at 129.854.

Martin Truex Jr., the series points leader and the relief driver this weekend for injured Cup standout Dale Earnhardt Jr., qualified 13th at 128.641. Kyle Busch, who trails Truex by only 52 points, will start 10th after qualifying at 128.737.

Coming off his first career victory two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway, Justin Labonte, son of two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte, will start 42nd in the 43-car field after crashing on his qualifying run.

Greg Biffle, another Cup regular, also crashed in qualifying and will start last.

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