Greg Biffle's No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford wasn't one of the final cars to make a qualifying attempt on Thursday, meaning he didn't have one of the fastest cars in practice earlier in the day in preparation for Saturday's Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but that didn't keep him from turning in a new track record qualifying run. Biffle got around CMS in 27.877 seconds to claim the pole and set a new track record.
Biffle said that before the qualifying session, he didn't think the old record would be topped this year, let alone be one of the drivers to do it.
I scared myself a couple of times.
Mark Martin and Ryan Newman also bettered the old track record. Martin qualified the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in 27.927 seconds to start next to Biffle on the front row. Newman's lap time of 27.943 seconds in the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was good enough for third.
While the top-three posted fastest-ever laps at the track, they weren't exactly smooth laps.
"I went into turn one and it was dragging, scraping, rubbing," Martin said of his car. "I didn't think it would do it."
Unlike Martin, Biffle said his car handled well.
"Mine felt great," Biffle said. "Mine was stuck to the race track."
Great handling aside, Biffle said the lap was an exciting one, none-the-less.
"I scared myself a couple of times." he said.
Despite being a go-or-go-home driver needing to get into the race on speed, Trevor Bayne put the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford on the provisional pole for a time. He ended the qualifying session as the fastest driver not already locked into the race and claimed the 16th spot on the starting grid.
Harvick was the final driver to hold the provisional pole before the position was claimed for good by Biffle.
Clint Bowyer qualified fourth in the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Qualifying sixth through 10th were Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Kurt Busch qualified 21st in his first outing behind the wheel of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.
"I've got to get caught back up," Busch said.
A. J. Allmendinger inherited the No. 51 Phoenix Racing seat vacated by Busch. He qualified 38th for his first start since being reinstated after a NASCAR suspension in July.
Being behind was the theme for drivers qualifying for their first starts with new teams.
"I think I'm behind the car right now," Allmendinger said. "The car's pretty quick."
"I'm just try8ing to fill some big shoes this weekend," Smith said of driver the car belonging to a Chase competitor and the most popular driver in the series.
Forty-seven drivers made qualifying attempts. Drivers who failed to make the race include Josh Wise, Joe Nemechek, Scott Riggs and Cole Whitt.