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Reutimann surprise pole winner at Richmond

David Reutimann topped Jamie McMurray in - the last race before the championship Chase begins.

Reutimann, who was the 40th driver to make his qualifying attempt in the 46- car field, turned a lap at 127.383 mph for his fourth career Sprint Cup Series pole, but his first since May 2009 at Dover (84 races ago). The Michael Waltrip Racing driver is currently 28th in points.

"We haven't had the season we wanted, but it does start the weekend off right, and it gives us a good starting position and pit selection," he said.

McMurray qualified only 0.008 seconds behind Reutimann for the outside pole.

"We've had a really good day," McMurray said. "It's just been one of those days where everything went smooth and went the way it should," McMurray said.

Both Reutimann and McMurray are mathematically eliminated from Chase contention. The playoffs in NASCAR's premier series begins September 18 at Chicagoland Speedway. Just three positions remain in the 12-driver Chase field.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin will share the second row, while Richard Childress Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton will occupy row three for Saturday night's 400-lap race at Richmond, which is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. (et).

"Being third is great, but that first lap, there was more in the car. and I just didn't know what effort level to commit to," Johnson said. "On the first lap, I knew I was a little under it, and on the second lap, I got it right in [turns] one and two but a little too fast in three and lost my marks."

Kevin Harvick, also from RCR, will start seventh, followed by Carl Edwards, A.J. Allmendinger and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Other notable drivers and their starting positions include: Brad Keselowski (19th), Tony Stewart (22nd), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (27th) and Denny Hamlin (28th).

Earnhardt Jr. and Stewart are ranked ninth and tenth in points, respectively. If Earnhardt Jr. finishes 20th or better at Richmond, he will clinch a playoff spot, regardless of any other driver's performance. Stewart is guaranteed a Chase position if he finishes 18th or better.

Keselowski has clinched at least a wild card spot based on his three wins so far this season. He is presently 11th in the rankings (23 points behind Stewart). Keselowski is attempting to move into the top-10 in points at Richmond.

Right now, Hamlin, 13th in points, holds the second and final wild card position due to his win in June at Michigan. Hamlin has won the last two fall races at Richmond.

Mike Skinner, Erik Darnell and T.J. Bell failed to qualify.