McMurray won the pole position for tonight's Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, turning a lap of 183.542 mph in his Chevrolet on Friday.
It is the third pole of the season and sixth of his career for McMurray, who won the Daytona 500 in February but has been struggling of late.
"We've had good speed all year, and we haven't been able to capitalize on enough good finishes," McMurray said. "We've had good results. It seems like we either have a chance to win the race or we finish 30th, and we've got to get a little bit better, more consistent there. But again, the speed is the hardest thing to find."
McMurray said he and the No. 1 team concentrated on trying to run the low groove at the bottom of the track in practice. Based on his observations of past races at Chicagoland, McMurray believes it will pay off tonight.
"I committed to running the bottom the entire practice, never got off of it," McMurray said. "Even if the car didn't quite have the speed in it, I just made my car handle well down there."
McMurray was followed in qualifying by the Chevrolets of Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.
Johnson planned to fly home to Charlotte, N.C., right away to spend time with his wife and newborn daughter. He will return in time for tonight's race.
NATIONWIDE SERIES: In Joliet, Ill., Kyle Busch pounced on Joey Logano on a restart in overtime, then pulled away to win the Nationwide series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday night.
It was the seventh Nationwide victory of the season for Busch, who also won the Nationwide race at Chicagoland in 2008.
Toyotas swept the top five spots as Logano finished second, followed by Brian Scott, David Reutimann and Jason Leffler.
Danica Patrick finished 24th, her first finish inside the top 30 in five Nationwide series races this season. Patrick was two laps behind the leaders at the finish.
MOVING ON: AJ Allmendinger says he's trying to move on from his confrontation with car owner and NASCAR legend Richard Petty last week.
After crashing during Saturday's race at Daytona International Speedway, Allmendinger had a heated exchange with Petty in the garage area, turning his back on his boss and storming away from the seven-time NASCAR champion.
"We had a really fast car last week. I was disappointed," Allmendinger said in comments issued through a Richard Petty Motorsports team spokesperson.
"I'm the hardest one on myself. We're both passionate and we were both frustrated. And I'd rather have him (Petty) frustrated than not care at all. We've definitely moved on and we're ready to pick back up here at Chicago."
Allmendinger had strong cars at both Daytona races but finished outside the top 30 both times.
"Daytona is behind us and we're focusing on this weekend," team vice president Robbie Loomis said.