2-for-1: Jamie McMurray wins Martinsville pole, sets track record

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If racing at Martinsville Speedway was like buying an ice cream cone, Jamie McMurray double-dipped during Friday’s Sprint Cup qualifying.

Not only did McMurray earn his second pole of the season, he also set a new track speed record (99.905 mph) in the process.

“It was a good start to our weekend,” McMurray said to Fox Sports 1 about his 11th career Sprint Cup pole. “The first pit stall here is a really big deal. I had it before and it’s critical in being able to win the race.”

McMurray shattered Matt Kenseth’s track record, which lasted for maybe 15 minutes, as Kenseth broke the old half-mile bullring’s speed mark in the first round of qualifying at 99.816 mph.

“You never know with me at Martinsville,” Kenseth quipped. “You never know if I’m going to be last or what it’s going to be.

“It was a spectacular lap on that first run. I couldn’t believe how fast it was. … The second run, we just didn’t quite have it. I probably could have done a better job.

“Overall, it was a good day for us. I really wanted to be on the pole after the first run, but it’s a good run for our team and gives us a good place to start on Sunday.”

Joey Logano qualified second at 99.605 mph, followed by Kenseth (99.318 mph), Tony Stewart (99.297) and Denny Hamlin (99.266).

“Overall, the Shell Pennzoil Ford is fast, we have speed in it, we’re starting towards the front, which is very important,” Logano said. “Now all I have to do is convince Jamie to take the outside.

“I think that’s the fastest way around here. Either way, it’s a good spot for us, we get a good pit stall, hopefully stay out of trouble and go and win this thing.”

Last week’s winner at Talladega, Brad Keselowski, was sixth-fastest in qualifying at 99.240 mph, followed by Jimmie Johnson (99.230), Kyle Busch (99.209), Ryan Newman (98.836) and Kurt Busch (98.620), who won this year’s spring race at Martinsville.

“If we qualify well, it’s usually a good sign for us in the race,” Keselowski said. “The sixth place starting spot is good, not great, but certainly a position we can win from.”

Having the worst qualifying effort of the eight remaining drivers in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is Kevin Harvick, who failed to qualify no higher than 33rd position after getting into the wall twice during his qualifying effort.

Here’s the starting lineup for Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500:

Row 1: Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano
Row 2: Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart
Row 3: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski
Row 4: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch
Row 5: Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch
Row 6: Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer
Row 7: Jeff Gordon, Paul Menard
Row 8: AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson
Row 9: Brian Vickers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 10: Austin Dillon, Casey Mears
Row 11: Greg Biffle, Justin Allgaier
Row 12: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne
Row 13: Marcos Ambrose, Martin Truex Jr.
Row 14: Aric Almirola, Landon Cassill
Row 15: David Ragan, Danica Patrick
Row 16: Reed Sorenson, Alex Bowman
Row 17: Kevin Harvick, David Gilliland
Row 18: Josh Wise, Cole Whitt
Row 19: Michael Annett, Clay Rogers
Row 20: Travis Kvapil, JJ Yeley
Row 21: Timmy Hill, Kyle Fowler
Row 22: Mike Wallace

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Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.