Juan Pablo Montoya claimed pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono, setting an early benchmark that stood unbeaten for the rest of the session.
The Earnhardt Ganassi driver produced a time of 51.124 seconds, at an average speed of 176.043 mph, improving on the previous best set by Phoenix Racing's Kurt Busch to claim his first pole since April 2011.
The Colombian was only the 16th driver in the order to set his qualifying lap but as track temperatures increased the fastest drivers of Friday's sessions were unable to get close to their best from practice.
"It's big, this is a huge boost for everybody in the team," said Montoya, currently 21st in Cup points. "We've been working so hard and we really needed a little bit of light.
"We know we're working in the right direction and we feel the cars have been getting a little better but to actually get out there and get a pole... I've seen a lot of long and stressful faces and we really needed something like this as a company."
He added: "Do we have the fastest car out there? No. But qualifying is the same as racing. You've just got to make the right calls and do whatever it takes to get it done and that's what we did."
Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, who revealed on Friday that he is set to be a father next January, ran early in the order as well and ended up with a front-row starting position, ahead of Paul Menard, also an early runner, who was forced to a back-up car on Friday after an incident at the end of the day's first session.
Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne was the fastest of the late runners and got the fourth starting spot for Sunday ahead of Richard Petty's Marcos Ambrose while Friday's pacesetter and points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr was eighth ahead of Stewart-Haas' Ryan Newman and Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson, who was fastest in the opening practice of the weekend.
Jeff Gordon, a five-time Pocono winner, was the only Hendrick driver to qualify outside the top 10 after slightly brushing the wall during his flying lap.
Mike Bliss was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 30th while Stephen Leicht failed to make the field.
Jason White got behind the wheel of the No. 32 car, replacing John Wes Townley who was originally set to drive it on his Cup debut, but crashed early in Friday's opening practice session.