Kasey Kahne claimed his second pole position of the season in qualifying for Sunday's Sprint Cup series race at Michigan.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver made the headlines again, this time with his on-track performance after revealing earlier this week that he will drive for Red Bull Racing Team next season before joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.
Kahne beat the previous benchmark set by his future teammate Jimmie Johnson with a lap time of 38.456sec at an average speed of 187.183mph, taking his second pole at Michigan, where he won from the front of the field in 2006. He made the most of the improving track conditions as he was among the later runners, thanks to a good draw that saw him complete his qualifying effort as the 34th driver in the order.
"It was a good lap, it felt really good," said Kahne. "I blew through Turns 1 and 2 and felt really good. I got to Turn 3 and I wasn't too sure. I pushed the nose a little. I felt like 1 and 2 was where we got the pole because we were really good there.
"I didn't really think it was a pole lap though. I was dominant until I got to 3 but then I felt that I wasn't too great in Turn 3. I figured it would be a pretty decent lap but not pole, but then it turned out it was. I think it just shows how good our car was in [Turns] 1 and 2 because that is where we got all the time."
Johnson claimed his fourth front-row start in the past six races, beating Clint Bowyer, who had been at the top of the speed charts before him. The Richard Childress Racing driver ended up third, sharing the second row of the grid with Stewart-Haas's Tony Stewart, while Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out another strong qualifying with fifth, the fourth consecutive top-five start for the Earnhardt Ganassi driver.
The Colombian held provisional pole for a while after going out early in the order, beating Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle who had been at the top of the board earlier. They will share the third row of the grid, ahead of Biffle's teammate Matt Kenseth, as the Roush outfit looks for a second win of the season and a record-breaking 12th at Michigan for Jack Roush, who is attending a race for the first time since his plane crash 18 days ago.
Points leader Kevin Harvick qualified seventh, while his RCR teammate Jeff Burton, who had paced practice earlier in the day, only managed 11th fastest despite a late qualifying draw, ending up behind the fastest Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., who was ninth, and Kahne's teammate Menard, who rounded out the top 10.
Rookie Landon Cassill was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 15th for Phoenix Racing, while Scott Riggs, Casey Mears, Mike Bliss and JJ Yeley failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Kasey Kahne Ford 187.183 38.465s
2. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 187.086 38.485s + 0.020s
3. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 186.577 38.590s + 0.125s
4. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 186.572 38.591s + 0.126s
5. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 186.461 38.614s + 0.149s
6. Greg Biffle Ford 186.350 38.637s + 0.172s
7. Matt Kenseth Ford 186.268 38.654s + 0.189s
8. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 186.176 38.673s + 0.208s
9. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 186.167 38.675s + 0.210s
10. Paul Menard Ford 185.912 38.728s + 0.263s
11. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 185.730 38.766s + 0.301s
12. Mark Martin Chevrolet 185.715 38.769s + 0.304s
13. Kurt Busch Dodge 185.596 38.794s + 0.329s
14. David Reutimann Toyota 185.596 38.794s + 0.329s
15. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 185.467 38.821s + 0.356s
16. A.J. Allmendinger Ford 185.419 38.831s + 0.366s
17. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 185.333 38.849s + 0.384s
18. Kyle Busch Toyota 185.290 38.858s + 0.393s
19. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 185.276 38.861s + 0.396s
20. Regan Smith Chevrolet 185.071 38.904s + 0.439s
21. Max Papis Toyota 184.952 38.929s + 0.464s
22. Joe Nemechek Toyota 184.876 38.945s + 0.480s
23. Elliott Sadler Ford 184.867 38.947s + 0.482s
24. Carl Edwards Ford 184.777 38.966s + 0.501s
25. Patrick Carpentier Ford 184.729 38.976s + 0.511s
26. Brad Keselowski Dodge 184.634 38.996s + 0.531s
27. Joey Logano Toyota 184.615 39.000s + 0.535s
28. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 184.582 39.007s + 0.542s
29. David Ragan Ford 184.535 39.017s + 0.552s
30. Bill Elliott Ford 184.431 39.039s + 0.574s
31. Scott Speed Toyota 184.417 39.042s + 0.577s
32. Travis Kvapil Ford 184.341 39.058s + 0.593s
33. Denny Hamlin Toyota 183.885 39.155s + 0.690s
34. Reed Sorenson Toyota 183.870 39.158s + 0.693s
35. Robby Gordon Toyota 183.744 39.185s + 0.720s
36. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 183.439 39.250s + 0.785s
37. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 183.388 39.261s + 0.796s
38. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 183.337 39.272s + 0.807s
39. Tony Raines Ford 182.764 39.395s + 0.930s
40. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 182.454 39.462s + 0.997s
41. P.J. Jones Toyota 180.555 39.877s + 1.412s
42. David Gilliland Ford 179.798 40.045s + 1.580s
43. Michael McDowell Toyota 183.257 39.289s + 0.824s