NASCAR veteran Mark Martin edged Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne in qualifying for Saturday's Coke Zero 400, claiming the 50th pole position of his career.
The 52-year-old, never a winner at Daytona, beat the benchmark set earlier in the session by the Wood Brothers rookie by 17 thousandths of a second, with a lap of 49.433 seconds at an average speed of 182.086 mph.
Martin's pole was the tip of the iceberg for Hendrick Motorsports as all the team's cars qualified in the top 10 and will be lining up one behind another on the outside as Martin's pole allows him to choose which lane he wants for the start of the race. Jeff Gordon will line up fourth, Daytona 500 polesitter Dale Earnhardt Jr sixth and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson eighth.
"I really didn't expect to get the pole," said Martin, a polesitter at Daytona for the fourth time in his Cup career. "When I ran it could have been first or 21st. I had no idea. They didn't tell me what my first lap was, that it was actually the quickest of the first laps so I had no idea. You just go out and do your thing. At Talladega we went out and we thought we had a shot at the pole and we didn't.
"Evidently they tweaked things just right this time just to get that last little bit of speed out of it, more than anyone else."
Clint Bowyer was third fastest, underlining the speed of the Richard Childress Chevrolets that looked quick working in tandem, even trying a four-car train during Friday's practice. In contrast the Penske Dodges were not quick on their own in qualifying (25th and 26th) after running among the fastest while in tandem during Friday's 45-minute session.
Roush Fenway's David Ragan was fifth while TRG's Andy Lally was seventh, making it three Roush-Yates powered Fords in the top seven. Richard Petty Motorsports' Fords had topped practice with the tandem of Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger, the latter qualifying ninth ahead of RCR's Paul Menard.
Ironically Stewart Haas' Tony Stewart will start Saturday night's event - which he has won three times in the past six years - right beside Red Bull's Brian Vickers in 19th following their clash at Sears Points last week.
Although running on pace while in tandem on Friday, the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas were unusually slow in qualifying, ending up down in 36th, 37th and 38th on the grid.
Tony Raines and JJ Yeley failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 49.433s
2. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 49.450s + 0.017s
3. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 49.553s + 0.120s
4. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 49.564s + 0.131s
5. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 49.636s + 0.203s
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 49.658s + 0.225s
7. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 49.713s + 0.280s
8. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 49.725s + 0.292s
9. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 49.738s + 0.305s
10. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 49.742s + 0.309s
11. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 49.753s + 0.320s
12. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 49.784s + 0.351s
13. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 49.792s + 0.359s
14. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 49.793s + 0.360s
15. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 49.794s + 0.361s
16. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 49.817s + 0.384s
17. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 49.839s + 0.406s
18. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 49.842s + 0.409s
19. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 49.848s + 0.415s
20. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 49.870s + 0.437s
21. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet 49.905s + 0.472s
22. Kevin Conway NEMCO Toyota 49.914s + 0.481s
23. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 49.918s + 0.485s
24. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 49.933s + 0.500s
25. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 49.952s + 0.519s
26. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 49.989s + 0.556s
27. Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 50.040s + 0.607s
28. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 50.041s + 0.608s
29. Mike Skinner Germain Toyota 50.060s + 0.627s
30. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 50.074s + 0.641s
31. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 50.097s + 0.664s
32. Casey Mears Germain Toyota 50.107s + 0.674s
33. Michael McDowell HP Toyota 50.110s + 0.677s
34. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 50.158s + 0.725s
35. Geoff Bodine Baldwin Chevrolet 50.206s + 0.773s
36. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 50.215s + 0.782s
37. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 50.256s + 0.823s
38. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 50.320s + 0.887s
39. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 50.379s + 0.946s
40. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 50.387s + 0.954s
41. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford 50.396s + 0.963s
42. Mike Bliss Gordon Dodge 50.589s + 1.156s
43. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 50.255s + 0.822s
Did not qualify:
Tony Raines Front Row Ford 50.459s + 1.026s
JJ Yeley Whitney Chevrolet 51.209s + 1.776s