Ryan Newman claimed his first pole position of the season and the 46th of his Sprint Cup series career in qualifying for Sunday's 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The driver nicknamed "Rocket" made the most of the improving conditions as the sun set at one of his favorite tracks. His effort of 28.793sec at an average speed of 187.546mph bumped Martin Truex Jr. from the pole and remained the best throughout the session, giving him his ninth pole at Charlotte.
"That was the most courageous lap I probably could have ever had around here," said the Stewart-Haas racer. "I told the guys I was going to stick to what I ran in practice and that was the top. I watched what Juan [Pablo Montoya] did. He was up pretty good off of Turn 2 all the way down into 3 and just didn't get 3 and 4 quite right and he was the best car by far in practice. It was a good run for us and we'll see what we can do in the Coca-Cola 600."
All-Star winner Kurt Busch came closest to beating his former Penske teammate and will join him on the front row of the grid, hoping to become the seventh driver to sweep both events at Charlotte in the month of May.
"It's funny, we ran 28.50sec the other night in the All-Star and we couldn't even do that in qualifying trim right now," said Busch, alluding to the hot and humid conditions of the day. "It's just a good vibe we have. Things are going good and hopefully we can get it put together for the full 600 miles."
Truex Jr., who was runner-up to Busch in the All-Star, ended up third as the fastest Toyota on a good day for Michael Waltrip Racing, his teammate David Reutimann in sixth place. Richard Petty Motorsports' Kasey Kahne was fourth in his Ford, making it four different brands in the top four spots of the grid.
Six-time Charlotte winner Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five as the best from the Hendrick Motorsports camp, while Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch filled positions seven to nine.
Casey Mears, a former 600 winner, had a solid qualifying on his third weekend filling in for Brian Vickers, taking 13th on the grid for Sunday's race.
Montoya had been untouchable in practice earlier in the day but an early draw and a less than perfect balance on his run didn't help him back up his pace in qualifying.
Brad Keselowski, who was among the early runners, spun on his qualifying attempt and hit the wall hard out of Turn 4. Roush Fenway's David Ragan also lost his car out of the same turn, but managed to avoid hitting the wall. His teammate Carl Edwards hit the barrier in practice earlier in the day and was forced to qualify a back-up car.
Dave Blaney was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 17th, while Reed Sorenson, Max Papis, David Stremme and Mike Bliss failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 187.546mph 28.793s
2. Kurt Busch Dodge 187.292mph 28.832s + 0.039s
3. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 187.188mph 28.848s + 0.055s
4. Kasey Kahne Ford 187.169mph 28.851s + 0.058s
5. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 186.974mph 28.881s + 0.088s
6. David Reutimann Toyota 186.825mph 28.904s + 0.111s
7. Denny Hamlin Toyota 186.767mph 28.913s + 0.120s
8. Joey Logano Toyota 186.728mph 28.919s + 0.126s
9. Kyle Busch Toyota 186.528mph 28.950s + 0.157s
10. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 186.053mph 29.024s + 0.231s
11. Mark Martin Chevrolet 186.021mph 29.029s + 0.236s
12. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 185.803mph 29.063s + 0.270s
13. Casey Mears Toyota 185.535mph 29.105s + 0.312s
14. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 185.459mph 29.117s + 0.324s
15. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 185.452mph 29.118s + 0.325s
16. Matt Kenseth Ford 185.052mph 29.181s + 0.388s
17. Dave Blaney Toyota 184.932mph 29.200s + 0.407s
18. A J Allmendinger Ford 184.906mph 29.204s + 0.411s
19. Joe Nemechek Toyota 184.856mph 29.212s + 0.419s
20. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 184.634mph 29.247s + 0.454s
21. Scott Speed Toyota 184.609mph 29.251s + 0.458s
22. Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 184.464mph 29.274s + 0.481s
23. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 184.407mph 29.283s + 0.490s
24. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 184.344mph 29.293s + 0.500s
25. Bill Elliott Ford 184.344mph 29.293s + 0.500s
26. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 184.326mph 29.296s + 0.503s
27. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 184.181mph 29.319s + 0.526s
28. David Gilliland Ford 184.093mph 29.333s + 0.540s
29. Todd Bodine Toyota 184.049mph 29.340s + 0.547s
30. Michael McDowell Toyota 184.037mph 29.342s + 0.549s
31. Carl Edwards Ford 183.949mph 29.356s + 0.563s
32. Regan Smith Chevrolet 183.855mph 29.371s + 0.578s
33. Paul Menard Ford 183.586mph 29.414s + 0.621s
34. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 183.542mph 29.421s + 0.628s
35. David Ragan Ford 183.306mph 29.459s + 0.666s
36. Robby Gordon Toyota 183.281mph 29.463s + 0.670s
37. Brad Keselowski Dodge 182.599mph 29.573s + 0.780s
38. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 182.562mph 29.579s + 0.786s
39. Elliott Sadler Ford 181.977mph 29.674s + 0.881s
40. Greg Biffle Ford 181.690mph 29.721s + 0.928s
41. Travis Kvapil Ford 180.590mph 29.902s + 1.109s
42. Kevin Conway Ford 179.838mph 30.027s + 1.234s
43. JJ Yeley Dodge 183.243mph 29.469s + 0.676s