Four of the eight Chasers qualified inside the top ten.
Matt Kenseth turned a 199.299 mph lap during the third and final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday to claim the pole for Sunday's AAA Texas 500.
Kenseth will share the front row with Jeff Gordon, who posted a lap speed only 0.008 seconds slower than Kenseth, while Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch will line up in row two.
We were going to be probably down to a 26.75 or 26.80 if I would have finished getting through (turn) four
"It was three incredible laps and a great effort by our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet team today," Gordon said. "All day long we have had a fast race car. It's awesome to be able to be able to back that up in qualifying."
Stewart fastest, but not on pole
Although Kenseth claimed the pole, his lap wasn't the fastest of the qualifying session. The honor of turning in the fastest lap time went, instead, to Tony Stewart. Stewart posted a 200.111 mph/26.985-second lap in the second round, making him the first driver ever to make a lap around a mile-and-a-half track in a stock car.
Iit is always cool to be the first guy to be able to do anything," Stewart said. "To be the first to run 200 mph average on a 1.5-mile is pretty cool."
In the final round of qualifying, he was sixth fastest, and therefore, will start sixth on Sunday.
"We were going to be probably down to a 26.75 or 26.80 if I would have finished getting through (turn) four," Stewart said. "I got real tight and had to lift all the way out of the gas in the first roiund and still ran a 27.10, so it was going to be a big monster lap in the first round, but that is not the one that pays. We hit it the second roiund, and I missed it in the third round, my fault."
Track record shattered
While the 200 mph mark wasn't reached until the second round, the old track qualifying record was shattered early in the session. Johnson was first to top the old track record, doing so early in round one with a 27.036-second/199.734 mph lap. By the end of the first round, several drivers had posted laps surpassing the old record. Johnson finished out the round on top.
Brad Keselowski was the only driver of the eight remaining Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders to not make it past the first round of qualifying. Another Chaser, Denny Hamlin, stumbled in the second round, leaving six Chase drivers among the 12 surviving to the third round.
Also getting to the third round and claiming spots fifth through 12th on starting grid were, Kevin Harvick, Stewart, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"It wasn't a bad run for the No. 22 AAA Ford, but it's not what we were hoping for," Logano said. "We were pretty good in the first round, and I thought we would be better in the second roiund, but we were good enough to make it. The later it went, the faster the guys went. In the third roiund, we were just too tight."