Denny Hamlin secured pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway in Friday's qualifying session.
After a tumultuous few weeks that have featured a fine for criticising the quality of Cup racing and altercations with Joey Logano on and off track at Bristol, Hamlin put his driving back into the headlines with an early lap of 38.410 seconds. The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was able to hang on at the top with that mark and claim pole.
"It takes forever on this racetrack," Hamlin admitted after waiting for the rest of the field to try and beat his time.
"It's good to get a pole here, especially going out this early. It's a pretty good confidence boost that you've got a good racecar."
Greg Biffle and championship leader Brad Keselowski were second and third in qualifying, but neither will start there. The two Fords both had engine failures during practice -- very early in the opening session in Biffle's case -- so will drop to the back for the green flag on Sunday.
That will make it a Gibbs 1-2-3 at the front, as Hamlin's teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth move up to start right behind him, followed by Hamlin's Bristol sparring partner Logano.
Bristol winner Kasey Kahne kicked himself for mistakes as he qualified 16th. All four Hendrick cars were between 15th and 19th, with Keselowski's points chasers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson 15th and 18th.
Among the smaller teams, Furniture Row's Kurt Busch and Germain's Casey Mears managed to get their cars up to 10th and 11th.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 38.410s
2. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 38.458s + 0.048s
3. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 38.472s + 0.062s
4. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 38.476s + 0.066s
5. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 38.567s + 0.157s
6. Joey Logano Penske Ford 38.603s + 0.193s
7. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 38.653s + 0.243s
8. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 38.738s + 0.328s
9. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 38.753s + 0.343s
10. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 38.777s + 0.367s
11. Casey Mears Germain Ford 38.886s + 0.476s
12. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 38.901s + 0.491s
13. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 38.945s + 0.535s
14. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 38.979s + 0.569s
15. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 38.998s + 0.588s
16. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 39.051s + 0.641s
17. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 39.081s + 0.671s
18. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 39.121s + 0.711s
19. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 39.128s + 0.718s
20. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 39.133s + 0.723s
21. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 39.162s + 0.752s
22. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 39.194s + 0.784s
23. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 39.195s + 0.785s
24. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 39.222s + 0.812s
25. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 39.291s + 0.881s
26. AJ Allmendinger Phoenix Chevrolet 39.320s + 0.910s
27. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 39.340s + 0.930s
28. David Reutimann BK Toyota 39.382s + 0.972s
29. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 39.418s + 1.008s
30. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 39.422s + 1.012s
31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 39.448s + 1.038s
32. David Stremme Swan Toyota 39.458s + 1.048s
33. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 39.465s + 1.055s
34. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 39.671s + 1.261s
35. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 39.760s + 1.350s
36. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet 39.760s + 1.350s
37. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 39.955s + 1.545s
38. Scott Riggs Xxxtreme Ford 40.038s + 1.580s
39. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford 40.118s + 1.646s
40. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 40.155s + 1.679s
41. Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 40.369s + 1.802s
42. David Ragan Front Row Ford 40.492s + 1.889s
43. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 40.645s + 1.992s