Jimmie Johnson claimed pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville with a record lap. The top six in qualifying were all under the lap record as the new Gen-6 car proved to be a definite step forward around the half-mile track.
Johnson's Hendrick Chevrolet had earlier been quicker in practice, and he produced a time of 19.244 seconds to knock Marcos Ambrose off the top spot.
"The car was fast right off the truck and I'm happy I did my part in qualifying and backed it up with the pole," said Johnson.
The delighted Ambrose had held pole for a large part of qualifying before Johnson edged ahead of his Richard Petty Ford by just 0.007sec.
Joe Gibbs Racing announced earlier this week that Brian Vickers would take over the injured Denny Hamlin's car from the next race at Texas Motor Speedway. Vickers went on to qualify third for present employer Michael Waltrip Racing in his first Cup appearance of 2013, while Hamlin's Martinsville-only stand-in Mark Martin could only manage 35th.
Joey Logano, still at the center of controversy over his part in Hamlin's accident, was pole-holder before Ambrose's run and ended up fourth. His Penske teammate Brad Keselowski got through technical inspection just in time to secure seventh, with Hendrick pair Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon setting identical times as they split the two Fords.
Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards claimed eighth and ninth, followed by lead Stewart-Haas driver Ryan Newman.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 19.244s
2. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 19.251s + 0.007s
3. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 19.266s + 0.022s
4. Joey Logano Penske Ford 19.269s + 0.025s
5. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 19.286s + 0.042s
6. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 19.286s + 0.042s
7. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 19.307s + 0.063s
8. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 19.319s + 0.075s
9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 19.330s + 0.086s
10. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 19.330s + 0.086s
11. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 19.333s + 0.089s
12. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 19.334s + 0.090s
13. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 19.352s + 0.108s
14. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 19.366s + 0.122s
15. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 19.378s + 0.134s
16. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 19.393s + 0.149s
17. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 19.399s + 0.155s
18. Regan Smith Phoenix Chevrolet 19.419s + 0.175s
19. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 19.430s + 0.186s
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 19.433s + 0.189s
21. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 19.435s + 0.191s
22. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 19.438s + 0.194s
23. David Ragan Front Row Ford 19.445s + 0.201s
24. David Stremme Swan Toyota 19.462s + 0.218s
25. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 19.472s + 0.228s
26. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 19.478s + 0.234s
27. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 19.486s + 0.242s
28. Scott Speed Leavine Ford 19.512s + 0.268s
29. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 19.523s + 0.279s
30. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 19.532s + 0.288s
31. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 19.541s + 0.297s
32. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 19.542s + 0.298s
33. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet 19.546s + 0.302s
34. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 19.556s + 0.312s
35. Mark Martin Joe Gibbs Toyota 19.571s + 0.327s
36. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford 19.587s + 0.343s
37. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 19.591s + 0.347s
38. Scott Riggs Xxxtreme Ford 19.603s + 0.359s
39. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 19.625s + 0.381s
40. David Reutimann BK Toyota 19.628s + 0.384s
41. Casey Mears Germain Ford 19.642s + 0.398s
42. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 19.672s + 0.428s
43. Joe Nemechek NEMCO-JRR Toyota 19.824s + 0.580s
Did not qualify:
Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 19.614s + 0.370s