Juan Pablo Montoya claimed pole position for Sunday's Brickyard 400 following dominant showings during both practice and qualifying.
The Colombian was fastest in both of Friday's practice sessions and he then backed that up on his qualifying lap Saturday morning, setting the benchmark time at 49.475 seconds, at an average speed of 182.278mph. The Earnhardt Ganassi driver was the seventh one out to complete his run, which stood unbeaten for the rest of the session.
The former Indianapolis 500 winner achieved his first ever pole at the venue, which makes it three front-row starts in four Brickyard 400 starts for him. While speaking after his pole, he reminded reporters that the first time he drove a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car had come at Indy in 2003 while in his Fprmula 1 days, when he swapped cars with Jeff Gordon and drove around the venue's purpose-built F1 track.
"It's funny because when we did that Jeff Gordon swap here, they wanted to run the oval and I said 'there's no way in hell I'm going to drive the oval in a Cup car' and here I am on pole," said Montoya. "It was a good lap. I think in [Turn] 2 I got a little bit tight and I had to come free a little bit getting off, but it wasn't a major deal. I don't think I made up any time but I don't think I really lost that much of a lap time there. Everywhere else was pretty good I thought. It was a good lap.
"The car is pretty good. We came here and tested and when we got off the truck the car was good. Now we just need to make sure we execute right and see what happens."
While Montoya will be hoping to make amends for last year's race, when a speeding penalty on his final stop prevented him from winning after leading from lap one, reigning champion Jimmie Johnson will start alongside him trying to make it three in a row at Indianapolis, having won the last two Brickyard events. He came closest to Montoya's time and secured an all-Chevy front row, trailing the pole sitter by 37 thousandths of a second.
Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin was third despite a late qualifying draw, which meant a hotter track, while the second Earnhardt Ganassi Chevy of Jamie McMurray was fourth. Stewart-Haas' Ryan Newman rounded out the top five, as Greg Biffle broke into the Chevy domination by placing his Roush Fenway Ford in sixth, ahead of four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon.
The Richard Childress Racing Chevrolets of points leader Kevin Harvick and his team-mate Jeff Burton rounded out the top 10 ahead of the fastest Dodge of Penske's Brad Keselowski and the quickest Toyota of Michael Waltrip's Martin Truex Jr.
Indy-returnee Jacques Villeneuve claimed the final spot for the non-guaranteed drivers in his Braun Racing Toyota, and will start last in what will be his third Sprint Cup series start.
"It's very exciting," said the former F1 World Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner. "It was very stressful because we didn't get a lot of laps. It was the first time the team has come here and it was a new car. And I hadn't been in a Cup car in over two years. It was a bit stressful. but it turned out fine."
David Gilliland, Casey Mears, David Stremme and JJ Yeley failed to make the field for Sunday's race.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 182.279 49.375s
2. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 182.142 49.412s + 0.037s
3. Mark Martin Chevrolet 181.803 49.504s + 0.129s
4. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 181.748 49.519s + 0.144s
5. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 181.741 49.521s + 0.146s
6. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 181.518 49.582s + 0.207s
7. Greg Biffle Ford 181.353 49.627s + 0.252s
8. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 181.251 49.655s + 0.280s
9. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 181.210 49.666s + 0.291s
10. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 181.156 49.681s + 0.306s
11. Brad Keselowski Dodge 180.883 49.756s + 0.381s
12. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 180.730 49.798s + 0.423s
13. Matt Kenseth Ford 180.571 49.842s + 0.467s
14. Kurt Busch Dodge 180.426 49.882s + 0.507s
15. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 180.382 49.894s + 0.519s
16. AJ Allmendinger Ford 180.357 49.901s + 0.526s
17. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 180.260 49.928s + 0.553s
18. Denny Hamlin Toyota 180.249 49.931s + 0.556s
19. Carl Edwards Ford 180.220 49.939s + 0.564s
20. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 180.213 49.941s + 0.566s
21. Robby Gordon Toyota 180.155 49.957s + 0.582s
22. Regan Smith Chevrolet 180.047 49.987s + 0.612s
23. Kyle Busch Toyota 179.845 50.043s + 0.668s
24. Kasey Kahne Ford 179.791 50.058s + 0.683s
25. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 179.590 50.114s + 0.739s
26. Paul Menard Ford 179.497 50.140s + 0.765s
27. Elliott Sadler Ford 178.962 50.290s + 0.915s
28. David Ragan Ford 178.916 50.303s + 0.928s
29. David Reutimann Toyota 178.891 50.310s + 0.935s
30. Scott Speed Toyota 178.884 50.312s + 0.937s
31. Bill Elliott Ford 178.845 50.323s + 0.948s
32. Reed Sorenson Toyota 178.838 50.325s + 0.950s
33. Joe Nemechek Toyota 178.834 50.326s + 0.951s
34. Joey Logano Toyota 178.781 50.341s + 0.966s
35. Max Papis Toyota 178.621 50.386s + 1.011s
36. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 178.377 50.455s + 1.080s
37. Michael McDowell Toyota 178.341 50.465s + 1.090s
38. Travis Kvapil Ford 178.013 50.558s + 1.183s
39. Todd Bodine Toyota 177.890 50.593s + 1.218s
40. Dave Blaney Toyota 177.578 50.682s + 1.307s
41. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 175.562 51.264s + 1.889s
42. Kevin Conway Ford 175.179 51.376s + 2.001s
43. Jacques Villeneuve Toyota 177.466 50.714s + 1.339s
Failed to qualify:
David Gilliland Ford 176.783 50.910s + 1.535s
Casey Mears Chevrolet 176.626 50.955s + 1.580s
David Stremme Ford 176.236 51.068s + 1.693s
JJ Yeley Dodge