Marcos Ambrose
After his two previous pole victories, Marcos Ambrose finished in the top 10 last year. He'll try to repeat those performances Sunday at Watkins Glen International. Reuters

No. 1 Jamie McMurray benefited from a new qualifying procedure, and will lead off the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver won his first pole since 2011 after the Sprint Cup Series adopted the same qualifying style as Nationwide. Drivers were divided into eight groups of five to six cars, with each car released five seconds apart. Teams had five minutes to complete their laps.

McMurray posted the best lap of 94.986 mph, with Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Clint Bowyer making up the top five.

Bowyer, currently third in the Sprint Cup standings, won at Sonoma last year, leading 71 laps around the nearly two-mile track.

Biffle has put together a strong run the last two races, finishing second at Pocono two weeks ago, and his victory in Michigan last week. The Roush Fenway Racing rep has three top-five finishes this year, and is currently eighth in the standings.

Ambrose surprisingly fell behind McMurray due to engine trouble, otherwise he might have taken the pole. Since 2009, the 35-year-old Ambrose has placed no lower than eighth at Sonoma.

Starting from the No. 43 spot and making history this week is Victor Gonzalez Jr. A native of Puerto Rico, Gonzalez will be the first driver hailing from the Caribbean to participate in a Sprint Cup race.

Gonzalez praised the accomplishments of Columbia’s Juan Pablo Montoya, but made the distinction between the Caribbean and South America clear.

"I hope NASCAR sees that I can bring a new Hispanic fan base to the sport," Gonzalez said to USA Today. "Juan Pablo has done a great job, but it's a different Hispanic group. South America is different from the Caribbean."

Gonzalez has seven career races, all in Nationwide, and has finished as high as 14th place. He drives for Tommy Baldwin Racing.

The race begins at 3 p.m. Eastern time, and will be broadcast by TNT.

Starting Lineup

1. Jamie McMurray

2. Marcos Ambrose

3. Carl Edwards

4. Greg Biffle

5. Clint Bowyer

6. Matt Kenseth

7. Kurt Busch

8. Joey Logano

9. Kyle Busch

10. Jeff Gordon

11. Tony Stewart

12. Kevin Harvick

13.Juan Pablo Montoya

14. Martin Truex Jr.

15. Kasey Kahne

16. Paul Menard

17. Denny Hamlin

18. Brad Keselowski

19. Jimmie Johnson

20. Bobby Labonte

21. Casey Mears

22. Jacques Villeneuve

23. David Ragan

24. Boris Said

25. Ron Fellows

26. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

27. Jeff Burton

28. David Stremme

29. David Gilliland

30. Ryan Newman

31. Danica Patrick

32. Aric Almirola

33. Travis Kvapil

34. Jason Bowles (driving for Brian Vickers)

35. Josh Wise

36. Justin Marks

37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

38. David Reutimann

39. Alex Kennedy

40. Paulie Harraka

41. Tomy Drissi

42. Victor Gonzalez Jr.

43. J.J. Yeley

Prediction: Clint Bowyer