Kyle Busch claimed his first road course pole position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup after heading qualifying for Sunday's race at Watkins Glen.
The Joe Gibbs Toyota driver was the last in the order to complete his flying lap after setting the pace in first practice. Just as AJ Allmendinger was ready to celebrate his second career pole, Busch bumped him from the top spot with a record lap of 1m10.767s, beating the Richard Petty Motorsports driver's benchmark by 0.2sec.
Busch, a former winner at The Glen, claimed his eighth Cup pole, but his first of the year.
"All in all the lap was really good," Busch said. "It seemed to be a pretty clean lap. There's a couple of moments in which I slipped, I don't think I did that great but we were able to get the throttle down and accelerate out of the turns as we needed and I think that's where a lot of the time was made up.
"I've won races at road courses but had yet to be the fastest guy for one lap. Today we did that, Joey Logano did it at [Sonoma], so Joe Gibbs Racing sweeps the road course poles which is great. Hopefully we can get a win."
Allmendinger will start beside Busch on the front row, having shown strong race pace during Friday's practice sessions. Allmendinger's teammate Marcos Ambrose had looked favourite to claim pole, but his qualifying run was not as clean as his final practice, when he had been the only driver to break into the 69-second bracket. The Australian showed enough race pace, however, to be regarded as a strong favorite for victory.
"I felt a little unfortunate... just overdrove it a little bit," said Ambrose. "But we're proud of our efforts. It would have been great to be on the front row with AJ, but we'll start third, we've got a great package, I feel really confident and we'll just see how the day unfolds.
"It's going to be interesting to see how guys do on the strategy and break-wear and all those factors that come into play on a road course. Hopefully we make the right judgment calls."
Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson held provisional pole for a while and ended up fourth ahead of last year's winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who complained of a loose car on his flying lap. The Earnhardt Ganassi driver was among the most consistent on race-trim on Friday's final practice.
The Stewart-Haas Racing duo of Ryan Newman and five-time event winner Tony Stewart were sixth and seventh ahead of points leader Carl Edwards, the fastest Ford runner for Roush Fenway. Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr and Furniture Row's Regan Smith rounded out the top 10.
Kurt Busch, who had claimed pole for the Nationwide Series race earlier in the day with a new track record, didn't fare as well on his Cup qualifying run and ended up only 27th, his Penske Dodge teammate Brad Keselowski ending up 12th.
The biggest loser of the session was Kyle Busch's teammate Denny Hamlin, who lost control of his car at the exit of Turn 5 and ended up hitting the guardrail. He will thus see the green flag wave from the back of the grid.
Joe Nemechek was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers, while Dave Blaney, Brian Simo and PJ Jones failed to make the field.
Sunday's weather forecast has teams fearing a possible washout for race day, showing an 80 per cent chance of rain.