Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson swept the front row of the grid in qualifying for Sunday's Chase round at Talladega.
The veteran beat the benchmark set by the reigning champion – who spent most of the session on provisional pole – with his second lap of 52.799sec, just edging his teammate by two thousandths of a second.
Chevrolet dominated qualifying, taking seven out of the top 10 spots on the grid. Hendrick Motorsports placed all of its cars in the top-six starting spots, with all of them dipping under the 53 second mark.
Earlier this year Hendrick also swept the front row at Talladega and eventually the squad had its drivers contending for victory on the final lap, Johnson claiming his first win of the season.
The Wood Brothers Ford of Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was able to split the Chevy cars at the front with the fourth-fastest time – the best of those having to qualify on speed – while Roush Fenway cars filled the remaining spots in the top nine, David Ragan taking eighth ahead of Chase leader Carl Edwards.
Kurt Busch was the best among the Dodges on the grid in 14th, while Toyota teams struggled for speed on their own despite looking quick while drafting in tandem during practice. JTG Daugherty's Bobby Labonte was the fastest in 21st.
Geoffrey Bodine, Scott Speed, TJ Bell and Josh Wise failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 52.799s
2. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 52.801s + 0.002s
3. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 52.835s + 0.036s
4. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 52.903s + 0.104s
5. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 52.930s + 0.131s
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 52.934s + 0.135s
7. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 53.007s + 0.208s
8. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 53.021s + 0.222s
9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 53.138s + 0.339s
10. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 53.140s + 0.341s
11. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 53.142s + 0.343s
12. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 53.168s + 0.369s
13. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 53.186s + 0.387s
14. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 53.209s + 0.410s
15. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 53.237s + 0.438s
16. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 53.250s + 0.451s
17. Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 53.250s + 0.451s
18. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 53.264s + 0.465s
19. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 53.278s + 0.479s
20. Kevin Conway NEMCO Toyota 53.291s + 0.492s
21. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 53.297s + 0.498s
22. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 53.305s + 0.506s
23. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota 53.310s + 0.511s
24. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 53.318s + 0.519s
25. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 53.318s + 0.519s
26. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 53.326s + 0.527s
27. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 53.372s + 0.573s
28. JJ Yeley Front Row Ford 53.393s + 0.594s
29. Michael McDowell HP Toyota 53.394s + 0.595s
30. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 53.481s + 0.682s
31. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 53.514s + 0.715s
32. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford 53.528s + 0.729s
33. Andy Lally TRG Ford 53.532s + 0.733s
34. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 53.563s + 0.764s
35. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 53.565s + 0.766s
36. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 53.595s + 0.796s
37. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 53.596s + 0.797s
38. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet 53.616s + 0.817s
39. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 53.641s + 0.842s
40. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 53.669s + 0.870s
41. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 53.696s + 0.897s
42. Casey Mears Germain Toyota 54.262s + 1.463s
43. Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 54.627s + 1.828s
Did not qualify:
Geoffrey Bodine Baldwin Chevrolet 53.637s + 0.838s
Scott Speed Whitney Ford 53.956s + 1.157s
T.J. Bell LTD Powersports 54.080s + 1.281s
Josh Wise Max Q Ford 54.085s + 1.286s