Kasey Kahne claimed his third position of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season while his teammate Paul Menard helped secure the first front row sweep for Richard Petty Motorsports in qualifying at Kansas Speedway.
Despite being among the early runners when track conditions were probably not at their best, Kahne was able to lap bellow the 31 second bracket, setting the benchmark for the session at 30.920sec at an average speed of 174.644mph. His teammate Menard was able to get close and missed his first pole by just 0.031sec, while still rounding out the best qualifying result the team has seen.
"To me this shows that myself and Paul and our teams are still really interested in running strong and not backing down at all just because we have other things we are going to do in the future," said Kahne, who leaves RPM at the end of the season to join Red Bull Racing next year, before moving to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.
"At the same time it shows that RPM is giving us great racecars. Roush Yates is giving us great engines. We have the package, we just need to put it all together."
Hendrick's Jeff Gordon, a two-time Kansas winner, was best among the title contenders and the fastest Chevrolet in third, while Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano was fourth and best among the Toyotas.
Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle was fifth, making it three Fords in the top five ahead of the Chevrolets of Stewart Haas' Ryan Newman and Earnhardt Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya, who continued his unmatched top-10 qualifying run for the 11th week in a row.
Biffle's teammate Matt Kenseth and Penske's Kurt Busch were the only other Chase drivers in the top 10, taking eighth and ninth, while former champion Bill Elliot placed his Wood Brothers' Ford as the best of the non-guaranteed drivers with the 11th fastest qualifying lap.
Chase leader Denny Hamlin was 12th, two places ahead of last year's Kansas winner Tony Stewart, while reigning champion Jimmie Johnson only managed a 21st place and Kyle Busch, third in the championship, will start just ahead of him from 19th on Sunday.
The Richard Childress Racing Chevys had yet another poor qualifying showing with Jeff Burton 23rd, ahead of Kevin Harvick, while Clint Bowyer was 27th. However Carl Edwards was the worst qualifier among the title contenders, ending up in 31st place.
Joe Nemechek, Mike Bliss and Jason Leffler failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Kasey Kahne Ford 174.644 30.920s
2. Paul Menard Ford 174.469 30.951s + 0.031s
3. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 174.430 30.958s + 0.038s
4. Joey Logano Toyota 174.312 30.979s + 0.059s
5. Greg Biffle Ford 174.255 30.989s + 0.069s
6. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 174.149 31.008s + 0.088s
7. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 173.952 31.043s + 0.123s
8. Matt Kenseth Ford 173.902 31.052s + 0.132s
9. Kurt Busch Dodge 173.874 31.057s + 0.137s
10. David Ragan Ford 173.768 31.076s + 0.156s
11. Bill Elliott Ford 173.751 31.079s + 0.159s
12. Denny Hamlin Toyota 173.701 31.088s + 0.168s
13. Regan Smith Chevrolet 173.622 31.102s + 0.182s
14. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 173.416 31.139s + 0.219s
15. Elliott Sadler Ford 173.377 31.146s + 0.226s
16. David Reutimann Toyota 173.349 31.151s + 0.231s
17. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 173.321 31.156s + 0.236s
18. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 173.227 31.173s + 0.253s
19. Kyle Busch Toyota 173.177 31.182s + 0.262s
20. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 173.077 31.200s + 0.280s
21. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 173.038 31.207s + 0.287s
22. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 173.033 31.208s + 0.288s
23. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 173.021 31.210s + 0.290s
24. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 172.960 31.221s + 0.301s
25. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 172.933 31.226s + 0.306s
26. Brad Keselowski Dodge 172.883 31.235s + 0.315s
27. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 172.789 31.252s + 0.332s
28. Mark Martin Chevrolet 172.706 31.267s + 0.347s
29. Michael McDowell Dodge 172.612 31.284s + 0.364s
30. AJ Allmendinger Ford 172.557 31.294s + 0.374s
31. Carl Edwards Ford 172.529 31.299s + 0.379s
32. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 172.408 31.321s + 0.401s
33. Scott Speed Toyota 172.046 31.387s + 0.467s
34. Reed Sorenson Toyota 172.024 31.391s + 0.471s
35. Landon Cassill Toyota 171.986 31.398s + 0.478s
36. Patrick Carpentier Ford 171.734 31.444s + 0.524s
37. Casey Mears Toyota 171.723 31.446s + 0.526s
38. David Gilliland Ford 171.510 31.485s + 0.565s
39. JJ Yeley Chevrolet 171.396 31.506s + 0.586s
40. Travis Kvapil Ford 170.719 31.631s + 0.711s
41. Kevin Conway Toyota 170.309 31.707s + 0.787s
42. Tony Raines Chevrolet 169.438 31.870s + 0.950s
43. Dave Blaney Ford 171.266 31.530s + 0.610s
Did not qualify:
Joe Nemechek Toyota 171.255 31.532s + 0.612s
Mike Bliss Toyota 170.557 31.661s + 0.741s
Jason Leffler Toyota 169.465 31.865s + 0.945s