Matt Kenseth went out late in the qualifying order but laid down the hottest lap of the day at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kenseth's lap of 127.300 mph was good enough to earn Kenseth his first pole of the season and just the second of his career.
"It's been awhile," Kenseth said. "It was a great lap. We've got a great car for the race tomorrow night. I didn't think it would qualify fast, but everybody did a great job. It was pretty fun to beat the 24 (Jeff Gordon) off the pole because he's always known for being so good here."
Kenseth is a self-proclaimed horrible qualifier but went out after the track temperatures had begun to cool. Some of the fastest times of the day were earned after the heat began to subside.
"We had a good draw obviously," Kenseth continued. "The weather is really good right now. We had a good car in practice and worked on race setup the whole time."
It is Kenseth's first pole since 2002 at Dover.
"The 16 (Greg Biffle) helped a lot," Kenseth said of his lap. "We used a lot of their stuff and the car was really good. I actually think I could have gone a little faster if I could do it again, but it was a great lap."
Jeff Gordon was second with a lap of 127.199 mph. Gordon is looking for a win this weekend to help buoy his attempts to stay eligible for the chase for the championship. Gordon has five career wins at Bristol.
"It was a good run for us," said Gordon. "It was a great lap, we are real happy with it. It felt like we left a little bit out there. All it took was somebody like Matt Kenseth to go out there and get after it."
Dave Blaney was third with a lap of 127.157 mph. It is Blaney's second top- three start of the year; he started second at this event in the spring.
"I thought going in that we could get a good lap," Blaney commented. "My car felt really good in practice. Going out so close to the end, I think it really helped. It cooled down quite a bit."
Greg Biffle and Ricky Rudd complete the top five fastest times.
"This track has got a ton of grip right now," Biffle said. "It is really, really fast. My car was just really solid. It was a really good lap. I didn't want to try for a second one because you're always taking a chance qualifying here because you are always right on the edge."
Point leader Tony Stewart wrecked during the first and only practice session for Cup teams at Bristol on Friday. Stewart was forced to pull out the back up car for qualifying, in an attempt to get as many practice laps in as possible; rather than spend a lengthy amount of time fixing Stewart's No. 20 Chevy.
Stewart wound up 17th.
"It was just a little bit tight," commented Stewart. "It was tight getting back to the gas. That's something that we can cure pretty easily, so we'll live with that one."
The No. 42 Dodge team of Jamie McMurray changed a transmission and will have to relinquish their 18th starting spot and begin the Sharpie 500 from the rear of the field.