Elliott Sadler claimed a surprise pole position for Sunday's Chase race, as Ford drivers dominated Sprint Cup series qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Richard Petty Motorsports racer, who is set to leave the squad at the end of the season after announcing earlier today plans to run full-time in Nationwide with Kevin Harvick's team next year, set his first pole position since 2006 and a new qualifying record for the new generation of Sprint Cup car at an average speed of 195.397 mph.
Sadler beat the previous benchmark set by Penske's Kurt Busch by nearly three tenths, with a lap of 27.636 seconds that allowed his name to remain at the top of the board throughout the session despite running relatively early in the order after being the 13th car out on the track.
"I'm feeling Superman today!," said a buoyant Sadler. "I could sit here and say it is me, or this or that, but [crew chief] Todd Parrott is the man. He can do so much as a crew chief. He is good for me from the mental side and we have been qualifying so much better here the last six weeks or so... that is a really fast lap for me. I got all I can get out of it."
In a front-row sweep for Ford drivers, Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle was second ahead of team-mate Carl Edwards, who had been fastest in the first practice session, which also saw Ford domination with four among the five fastest.
Earnhardt Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya was the best Chevrolet driver of the day, splitting the Fords in practice and running fastest among the bowtie-brand racers in qualifying, taking fourth on the grid for Sunday's 500-miler.
A third Roush Fenway Ford rounded out the top-five with David Ragan at the wheel, while the elder of the Busch brothers was sixth fastest and best of the Dodges.
Among the title contenders Jimmie Johnson was best but only 17th, right ahead of the fastest Toyota of David Reutimann. Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick was 26th, clearly focusing on race trim during practice, while Denny Hamlin will see the green flag wave from 30th on the grid.
Nationwide series regular Trevor Bayne will make his Sprint Cup series debut from 28th on the grid driving a Ford for Wood Brothers, after being fastest of those having to make the the field on time. Meanwhile JJ Yeley, Scott Riggs, Michael McDowell, Jeff Green, Josh Wise and Brian Keselowski failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap
1. Elliott Sadler Ford 195.397 27.636s
2. Greg Biffle Ford 193.652 27.885s + 0.249s
3. Carl Edwards Ford 193.646 27.886s + 0.250s
4. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 193.479 27.910s + 0.274s
5. David Ragan Ford 193.424 27.918s + 0.282s
6. Kurt Busch Dodge 193.375 27.925s + 0.289s
7. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 193.320 27.933s + 0.297s
8. Regan Smith Chevrolet 193.216 27.948s + 0.312s
9. Mark Martin Chevrolet 193.174 27.954s + 0.318s
10. A.J. Allmendinger Ford 193.092 27.966s + 0.330s
11. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 193.078 27.968s + 0.332s
12. Paul Menard Ford 192.775 28.012s + 0.376s
13. Aric Almirola Ford 192.603 28.037s + 0.401s
14. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 192.369 28.071s + 0.435s
15. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 191.993 28.126s + 0.490s
16. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 191.986 28.127s + 0.491s
17. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 191.939 28.134s + 0.498s
18. David Reutimann Toyota 191.891 28.141s + 0.505s
19. Matt Kenseth Ford 191.884 28.142s + 0.506s
20. Joey Logano Toyota 191.768 28.159s + 0.523s
21. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 191.748 28.162s + 0.526s
22. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 191.741 28.163s + 0.527s
23. Scott Speed Toyota 191.673 28.173s + 0.537s
24. Kasey Kahne Toyota 191.598 28.184s + 0.548s
25. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 191.564 28.189s + 0.553s
26. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 191.557 28.190s + 0.554s
27. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 191.530 28.194s + 0.558s
28. Trevor Bayne Ford 191.090 28.259s + 0.623s
29. Kyle Busch Toyota 191.056 28.264s + 0.628s
30. Denny Hamlin Toyota 190.968 28.277s + 0.641s
31. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 190.846 28.295s + 0.659s
32. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 190.833 28.297s + 0.661s
33. David Gilliland Ford 190.201 28.391s + 0.755s
34. Joe Nemechek Toyota 190.121 28.403s + 0.767s
35. Casey Mears Toyota 189.720 28.463s + 0.827s
36. Brad Keselowski Dodge 189.633 28.476s + 0.840s
37. Patrick Carpentier Ford 189.255 28.533s + 0.897s
38. Mike Bliss Toyota 189.202 28.541s + 0.905s
39. Robby Gordon Toyota 188.851 28.594s + 0.958s
40. Andy Lally Chevrolet 188.626 28.628s + 0.992s
41. Travis Kvapil Ford 187.337 28.825s + 1.189s
42. Dave Blaney Ford 185.663 29.085s + 1.449s
43. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 188.996 28.572s + 0.936s