Juan Pablo Montoya claimed his third pole position of the season in qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The Colombian, who was sixth in the qualifying order, ran a first lap close to the wall to gain speed and a second at the bottom of the highly banked track to cover a shorter distance, setting a time of 51.863sec on the latter one at an average speed of 184.640mph, a benchmark that stood unbeaten throughout the session.
Montoya's pole was the fifth of his career and his second at Talladega, where he made his stock car debut for Chip Ganassi four years ago in the ARCA RE/MAX series.
"Last time we ran here [Earnhardt Ganassi cars] finished second and third, so we're looking forward to a good day tomorrow," said Montoya, who dedicated his pole position to the memory of NASCAR executive Jim Hunter, who passed away on Friday after battling cancer for almost a year.
"We've got to be there at the end, there are always big wrecks and many big things happening here, so hopefully we're not in any of those. But…it's Talladega!"
Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer will start second as the best placed of the drivers in the Chase, completing a front row sweep for Earnhardt Childress Racing engines, which have won every restrictor plate race this season, except the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona in January.
Penske's Kurt Busch will start third beside Joe Nemechek, who was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers and the best of the Toyotas, while Jeff Burton rounded out the top five ahead of crowd favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr.
RCR driver Kevin Harvick, who has two restrictor-plate wins to his name this year including the spring event at Talladega, was the fastest qualifier among the top title contenders in 14th, despite qualifying usually being his weak spot. Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, who ran a 201mph average lap in the draft during Friday practice, will start from 17th on the grid, right ahead of reigning champion and points leader Jimmie Johnson as both are expected to drop back in the field in order to avoid the carnage often seen at Talladega.
The Fords did not fare well in qualifying with Matt Kenseth being the best of the Fusions down in 27th place.
Landon Cassill, Travis Kvapil, Johnny Sauter failed to make the field for Sunday's race.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 184.640 51.863s
2. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 184.498 51.903s + 0.040s
3. Kurt Busch Dodge 184.388 51.934s + 0.071s
4. Joe Nemechek Toyota 184.253 51.972s + 0.109s
5. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 184.161 51.998s + 0.135s
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 183.906 52.070s + 0.207s
7. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 183.885 52.076s + 0.213s
8. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 183.762 52.111s + 0.248s
9. Casey Mears Toyota 183.621 52.151s + 0.288s
10. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 183.614 52.153s + 0.290s
11. Brad Keselowski Dodge 183.561 52.168s + 0.305s
12. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 183.543 52.173s + 0.310s
13. Jeff Fuller Toyota 183.406 52.212s + 0.349s
14. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 183.374 52.221s + 0.358s
15. Michael McDowell Chevrolet 183.273 52.250s + 0.387s
16. Kasey Kahne Toyota 183.245 52.258s + 0.395s
17. Denny Hamlin Toyota 183.052 52.313s + 0.450s
18. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 183.010 52.325s + 0.462s
19. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 182.999 52.328s + 0.465s
20. Michael Waltrip Toyota 182.919 52.351s + 0.488s
21. David Reutimann Toyota 182.863 52.367s + 0.504s
22. Chad McCumbee Chevrolet 182.839 52.374s + 0.511s
23. Carl Edwards Ford 182.821 52.379s + 0.516s
24. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 182.800 52.385s + 0.522s
25. Joey Logano Toyota 182.790 52.388s + 0.525s
26. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 182.786 52.389s + 0.526s
27. Matt Kenseth Ford 182.786 52.389s + 0.526s
28. David Ragan Ford 182.650 52.428s + 0.565s
29. Scott Speed Toyota 182.598 52.443s + 0.580s
30. Mark Martin Chevrolet 182.522 52.465s + 0.602s
31. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 182.400 52.500s + 0.637s
32. Kyle Busch Toyota 182.365 52.510s + 0.647s
33. Elliott Sadler Ford 182.306 52.527s + 0.664s
34. Greg Biffle Ford 182.258 52.541s + 0.678s
35. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 181.998 52.616s + 0.753s
36. AJ Allmendinger Ford 181.880 52.650s + 0.787s
37. Aric Almirola Ford 181.673 52.710s + 0.847s
38. Paul Menard Ford 181.653 52.716s + 0.853s
39. Landon Cassill Toyota 181.615 52.727s + 0.864s
40. Regan Smith Chevrolet 181.367 52.799s + 0.936s
41. Bill Elliott Ford 180.601 53.023s + 1.160s
42. Travis Kvapil Ford 180.461 53.064s + 1.201s
43. David Gilliland Ford 179.568 53.328s + 1.465s
44. Robert Richardson Jr Ford 179.024 53.490s + 1.627s
45. Robby Gordon Toyota 178.517 53.642s + 1.779s
46. Johnny Sauter Toyota 177.117 54.066s + 2.203s