Jimmie Johnson will start from pole position in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Johnson and his pit crew combined their efforts to perform three laps and a four-tire pit stop in 2:01.41, beating the previous benchmark set by his Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The reigning champion set the fastest first lap of the session, then had a good 14.1 second pit stop and off from the pits he was also the fastest of all the 18 drivers completing runs.
"I think with track position as important as it's going to be in the race, to be where we are is a great situation," Johnson said. "We focused on it hard today and everybody did their jobs.
Kurt Busch was second fastest, followed by Matt Kenseth whose team performed the quickest four-tyre stop in 13.7 seconds. Earnhardt Jr dropped down to fourth place by the end of the session while Mark Martin was fifth, losing a likely pole with a sideways moment exiting the pits.
Many teams hit trouble during their runs. The pit troubles that have hampered Carl Edwards's season continued to be a headache for him after he had set the fastest overall time. He was later penalized for three loose lug nuts while his Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle had a similar problem.
"It's frustrating, but that's kind of how our season has been," Edwards said. "We've just had little bitty things that keep us from reaching our potential and now is a better time than any to work them out."
Denny Hamlin faced transmission problems at the end of his run and Tony Stewart left his box prematurely after changing only two tires and had to reverse back into it to get the left- side tires changed.
Qualifying for the Sprint Showdown race, which will give the top-two finishers an entry into the All-Star race, was canceled due to rain. Penske's David Stremme will start from pole in the 40-lap event on Saturday evening with the order determined by the draw that had set the qualifying order.
Kirk Shelmerdine got the first turn to qualify in the draw but he won't start from pole after being forced to make adjustments to his car following a practice incident caused by a cut tire, which sent him against the wall.
Carl Long had the second turn and would have inherited pole for the Showdown but he too had to break the impound on his car to replace the engine. Both drivers will start from the back of the field.
All-Star race starting order:
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 44.475 2:01.416
2. Kurt Busch Dodge 44.195 2:02.187 + 0.771
3. Matt Kenseth Ford 43.836 2:03.185 + 1.769
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 43.807 2:03.269 + 1.853
5. Mark Martin Chevrolet 43.673 2:03.645 + 2.229
6. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 43.429 2:04.341 + 2.925
7. Bobby Labonte Ford 43.424 2:04.356 + 2.940
8. Kasey Kahne Dodge 43.330 2:04.626 + 3.210
9. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 43.290 2:04.741 + 3.325
10. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 43.204 2:04.987 + 3.571
11. Greg Biffle Ford 42.682 2:06.517 + 5.101
12. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 42.681 2:06.519 + 5.103
13. Kyle Busch Toyota 42.602 2:06.756 + 5.340
14. Carl Edwards Ford 39.473 2:16.802 +15.386
15. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 39.191 2:17.788 +16.372
16. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 37.565 2:23.752 +22.336
17. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 37.144 2:25.379 +23.963
18. Denny Hamlin Toyota - - -