Carl Edwards claimed pole position for Sunday's Sprint Cup series race at Phoenix, while Chase leader Denny Hamlin beat his title rivals in qualifying for the penultimate race of the season.
The Roush Fenway racer, who had been quickest earlier in practice, beat the previous benchmark set by Richard Petty's AJ Allmendinger with a record-setting lap of 26.395sec at an average speed of 136.389mph.
Being one of the last in the qualifying order helped Edwards secure his third pole position of the season and the second of his career at Phoenix International Raceway.
"The first thing that we're going to have an advantage Sunday is with our pit stall, that's going to help us a lot," said Edwards, who remains winless since the 2008 season finale at Homestead. "I think we have an advantage because [the title rivals] have to be a little bit conservative. Guys like myself we're really battling for fourth in points and battling for wins. We can go out and be a little more aggressive and maybe take advantage of that."
Following another week of uncertainty about his future, AJ Allmendinger secured another Ford front-row sweep following last week at Texas.
Richard Petty Motorsports haulers only left the Fort Worth track on Wednesday, as the team continues to weather some financial woes in the last two weeks of the season, raising further doubts about their ability to race next season, having signed the Californian and Australian Marcos Ambrose on multi-year deals.
"There's no secret of what we're going through right now and it's a tough time," said Allmendinger. "All the crew guys here and all the guys at the shop are listening and watching, they're amazing people because it could easily tear this team apart. Everybody could be fighting with each other and not want to be here, but everybody is sticking together and fighting hard to go out there and perform."
Penske's Kurt Busch held provisional pole but ended up third, followed by Edwards' teammate Greg Biffle and Earnhardt Ganassi's Jamie McMurray, while David Reutimann was best among the Toyotas in sixth place.
Chase leader Denny Hamlin was best of the title contenders, despite not running as well as earlier in the first practice session. He will line up 17th on the grid, while rivals Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick will see the green flag wave from 21st and 29th, respectively.
Casey Mears was the best of the non-guaranteed drivers to make the field on speed while Jason Leffler, Joe Nemechek and Michael McDowell failed to qualify.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Carl Edwards Ford 136.389 26.395s
2. A.J. Allmendinger Ford 136.250 26.422s + 0.027s
3. Kurt Busch Dodge 136.240 26.424s + 0.029s
4. Greg Biffle Ford 135.742 26.521s + 0.126s
5. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 135.665 26.536s + 0.141s
6. David Reutimann Toyota 135.547 26.559s + 0.164s
7. Kyle Busch Toyota 135.527 26.563s + 0.168s
8. Regan Smith Chevrolet 135.303 26.607s + 0.212s
9. Aric Almirola Ford 135.227 26.622s + 0.227s
10. Joey Logano Toyota 135.206 26.626s + 0.231s
11. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 135.206 26.626s + 0.231s
12. David Ragan Ford 135.176 26.632s + 0.237s
13. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 135.150 26.637s + 0.242s
14. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 135.089 26.649s + 0.254s
15. Matt Kenseth Ford 135.084 26.650s + 0.255s
16. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 135.039 26.659s + 0.264s
17. Denny Hamlin Toyota 134.938 26.679s + 0.284s
18. Paul Menard Ford 134.917 26.683s + 0.288s
19. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 134.917 26.683s + 0.288s
20. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 134.821 26.702s + 0.307s
21. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 134.816 26.703s + 0.308s
22. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 134.801 26.706s + 0.311s
23. Elliott Sadler Ford 134.801 26.706s + 0.311s
24. Casey Mears Toyota 134.766 26.713s + 0.318s
25. Kasey Kahne Toyota 134.756 26.715s + 0.320s
26. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 134.494 26.767s + 0.372s
27. Scott Speed Toyota 134.429 26.780s + 0.385s
28. Mark Martin Chevrolet 134.393 26.787s + 0.392s
29. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 134.353 26.795s + 0.400s
30. Brad Keselowski Dodge 134.273 26.811s + 0.416s
31. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 134.163 26.833s + 0.438s
32. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 134.013 26.863s + 0.468s
33. J.J. Yeley Ford 133.943 26.877s + 0.482s
34. Robby Gordon Toyota 133.650 26.936s + 0.541s
35. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 133.625 26.941s + 0.546s
36. Mike Bliss Toyota 133.611 26.944s + 0.549s
37. David Gilliland Ford 133.492 26.968s + 0.573s
38. Travis Kvapil Ford 133.383 26.990s + 0.595s
39. Landon Cassill Toyota 133.343 26.998s + 0.603s
40. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 133.318 27.003s + 0.608s
41. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 132.197 27.232s + 0.837s
42. Tony Raines Ford 130.938 27.494s + 1.099s
43. Terry Labonte Dodge Champion's Provisional