Kyle Busch claimed pole position for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star race after he and the Joe Gibbs team were fastest through the unique qualifying format.
Drivers had to complete three flying laps including a four-tyre pitstop, and Busch and his crew were quicker than the opposition, beating Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer, who had just set the benchmark before Busch went out last and bumped him from pole. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had set the pace earlier in practice, where he looked both quick and consistent at a track where he has yet to win in a Cup car.
"The guys unloaded a really, really good car today," said Busch following his second career All-Star pole. "Dave Rogers [crew chief] did a great job. All the guys here that work on this thing gave me a really good piece. I did have to do my part. I thought I gave it a little bit too much. I guess it was just enough.
"Again, a fast lap – fast guys on pit road. They deserve to win that pit crew challenge. One of these years we need to get that with them... Hopefully, we can keep it rolling into tomorrow."
Bowyer will start Saturday's event from second, ahead of Roush Fenway Racing duo Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. Veteran Mark Martin rounded out the top five for Hendrick Motorsports in a one-off appearance at the wheel of the No. 25 Chevrolet.
"That Kyle Busch is a pain in everybody's butt, isn't he? He's pretty good," said Bowyer. "That is a fun, fun qualifying effort. I'm telling you, it is nerve-wracking on everybody's part. You're trying to hit your marks right. Doing everything we normally do, but it is such a different format, it makes you panic.
"Coming on to pit road, you are like 'man, don't get too much but don't stop too soon'. Just a fun, fun atmosphere to be involved in. Happy with our efforts, happy to be on the front row."
Reigning Cup champion and two-time All-Star winner Jimmie Johnson will race the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy from 11th on the grid, beside his team-mate Jeff Gordon, a three-time winner of the event.
Denny Hamlin, whose team won Thursday's pit crew challenge, will start 15th among the 18-car line up which is set to add three more drivers. The top two finishers of the 40-lap Sprint Showdown, where David Ragan and AJ Allmendinger will start from the front row, will get into Saturday's main event.
One more driver will get in through the fans' votes, the winner being unveiled before the start of the main event. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was not eligible for an entry into the All-Star this year, is the favorite to take that spot if he does not earn a way in through the Sprint Showdown.
The All-Star race will be run over 100 laps consisting of a 50-lap segment, two of 20 laps, plus a final sprint of 10.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 1m59.191s
2. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 1m59.666s + 0.475s
3. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 2m00.232s + 1.041s
4. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 2m00.683s + 1.492s
5. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 2m01.194s + 2.003s
6. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 2m01.206s + 2.015s
7. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 2m01.534s + 2.343s
8. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 2m01.545s + 2.354s
9. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 2m01.814s + 2.623s
10. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 2m02.046s + 2.855s
11. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 2m02.136s + 2.945s
12. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 2m02.144s + 2.953s
13. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 2m02.253s + 3.062s
14. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 2m02.581s + 3.390s
15. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 2m02.613s + 3.422s
16. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 2m03.438s + 4.247s
17. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 2m04.528s + 5.337s
18. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 2m27.068s + 27.877s