Kyle Busch said he was 'shocked' to be able to secure a front-row grid spot in NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Loudon.
The 27-year-old, who missed out on a spot in this year's Chase by just three points at Chicagoland, flew to the top of the times midway through the session. Having been 19th in practice, Busch then watched on as the rest of the field – barring eventual poleman Jeff Gordon – failed to beat his mark.
"I was actually shocked by the time we ran - and pleased at the same time," he said. "The effort was really good.
"Practice didn't quite go the way we wanted it to, we struggled early, [and] then we didn't get the draw we hoped for and had to go out early [in qualifying]. The guys made some nice changes to get the car a lot better though and it reacted well, I was really fast.
"I was hoping it would hold up but Jeff had a really good draw right at the end and beat us by a little bit, but it's still good for track position to start at the front."
Following on from team owner Joe Gibbs' disappointment at Busch missing the Chase, he added: "[It makes it] a little bit more challenging, but that's a product of missing the Chase; it's what you get.
"It's our own fault –those three points that could have meant an awful lot throughout the season to get ourselves in the top spot."