Greg Biffle claimed his third pole position of the season in qualifying for Saturday night's fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase round at Charlotte.
The Roush Fenway driver, who has had a lackluster start to his title campaign, set a new track record at the mile-and-a-half speedway with a lap at an average speed of 193.708 mph. It marks the seventh time a new benchmark has been set at a venue in 2012.
Veteran Mark Martin got closest to Biffle's speed in his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota and will start alongside him on the front row.
"It feels so good, we've been working so hard," said Biffle. "We've kind of been down in the dumps a little bit cause we haven't started out this Chase as strong as we've been all season."
Stewart-Haas Racing's Ryan Newman was third fastest and best among the Chevrolets. He also beat the previous track record, while Martin's team-mate Clint Bowyer was fourth ahead of fellow Chase contenders Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports), the third MWR Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. and last week's Talladega winner Matt Kenseth (Roush Fenway).
Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, currently third in the playoff series standings, had been fastest earlier in practice and qualified ninth behind his team-mate Kyle Busch.
Chase leader Brad Keselowski was 20th fastest, only beating one of the other title contenders, reigning champion Tony Stewart who was 32nd.
"It's just qualifying hasn't been our strong suit this year, I don't have an answer why," said Keselowski. "But in the race, the [cars] have been incredible. I'll take a good race car over a good qualifying car any day of the week and we've had that this year."
Kurt Busch was best among those running with a new team this weekend in 21st at the wheel of Furniture Row's No. 78 Chevrolet.
Regan Smith, whose seat has been taken by Busch from this weekend, could not match an impressive seventh in practice during his qualifying run and was only 26th in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s regular Hendrick Chevrolet.
Meanwhile AJ Allmendinger was 38th on his Cup return, driving Phoenix Racing's No. 51 Chevrolet.
Wood Brothers' Trevor Bayne was fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 16th, while Cole Whitt, Scott Riggs, Josh Wise and Joe Nemechek failed to make the field.