Joplin, MO native Jamie McMurray set a Darlington record of 180.370 mph to lead qualifying Friday for tonight’s Southern 500. Seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon was second at 180.323 and Brian Vickers third in 179.987. All three were faster than what Matt Kenseth set a year ago.

It was the fifth career pole and second this season for the Daytona 500 champion. Hopefully this is a start of good things for McMurray who finished third in last night’s Nationwide race. Denny Hamlin won his third straight Nationwide victory at Darlington Raceway, pulling away from teammate Kyle Busch with five laps left.

Starting grid for Southern 500