Matt Kenseth claimed his second pole position of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season in qualifying for Sunday's opening Chase round at Chicagoland Speedway.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver confirmed the recent upturn in his qualifying form by posting a fastest lap of 29.469sec at an average speed of 183.243mph, which bumped his teammate Greg Biffle from pole and then held up as the benchmark for the rest of the session.
Kenseth, who starts the Chase from fourth place as the top ranked Ford driver, has now qualified among the top 10 nine times this season but most encouragingly, his last six top-10 starts have resulted in equally solid finishes.
"That was a great lap," Kenseth said. "Yesterday I really liked our car in qualifying trim. We had a pretty good lap there and for me to qualify this good, you know my car is pretty fast. We need to get a little bit more for [the race] but our car drove great today."
Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard will start beside Kenseth from the front row, while behind them four Chase contenders will line up with Penske's Kurt Busch, Stewart Haas' Ryan Newman, Roush's Carl Edwards and the second Penske of Brad Keselowski completing the first three rows of the grid.
Biffle ended up seventh, followed by Red Bull's Brian Vickers, with Chase leader Kyle Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano rounding out the top 10.
Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson will line up 12th as the best from the Hendrick Motorsports camp while RCR's Kevin Harvick was the lowest Chase qualifier, setting the 30th fastest time.
Wood Brothers' Trevor Bayne was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 28th. Travis Kvapil, David Starr, Stephen Leicht and Mike Skinner failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 29.469s
2. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 29.488s + 0.019s
3. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 29.503s + 0.034s
4. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 29.507s + 0.038s
5. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 29.522s + 0.053s
6. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 29.531s + 0.062s
7. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 29.565s + 0.096s
8. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 29.575s + 0.106s
9. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 29.615s + 0.146s
10. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 29.620s + 0.151s
11. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 29.634s + 0.165s
12. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 29.667s + 0.198s
13. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 29.690s + 0.221s
14. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 29.696s + 0.227s
15. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 29.729s + 0.260s
16. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 29.752s + 0.283s
17. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 29.752s + 0.283s
18. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 29.767s + 0.298s
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 29.784s + 0.315s
20. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 29.787s + 0.318s
21. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 29.790s + 0.321s
22. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 29.790s + 0.321s
23. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 29.807s + 0.338s
24. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 29.812s + 0.343s
25. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 29.822s + 0.353s
26. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 29.828s + 0.359s
27. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 29.879s + 0.410s
28. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 29.894s + 0.425s
29. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 29.900s + 0.431s
30. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 29.913s + 0.444s
31. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet 29.973s + 0.504s
32. JJ Yeley Front Row Ford 29.980s + 0.511s
33. Michael McDowell HP Toyota 29.990s + 0.521s
34. David Stremme Inception Chevrolet 29.991s + 0.522s
35. Scott Speed Whitney Ford 30.000s + 0.531s
36. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 30.016s + 0.547s
37. Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 30.039s + 0.570s
38. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 30.196s + 0.727s
39. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 30.228s + 0.759s
40. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 30.238s + 0.769s
41. Casey Mears Germain Toyota 30.262s + 0.793s
42. Mike Bliss FAS Lane Ford 30.313s + 0.844s
43. Josh Wise Max Q Ford 30.136s + 0.667s
Did not qualify:
Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 30.140s + 0.671s
David Starr Leavine Ford 30.214s + 0.745s
Stephen Leicht Baldwin Chevrolet 30.310s + 0.841s
Mike Skinner Germain Chevrolet 30.592s + 1.123s