Despite a late draw on a slick track that warmed throughout Saturday's qualifying session, AJ Allmendinger claimed the pole for Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, posting a lap at 175.993 mph (30.683 seconds).
In winning the second Coors Light pole award of his career, his first since 2010 at Phoenix and his first since joining Penske Racing this season, Allmendinger edged Kevin Harvick (175.747 mph) by .043 seconds at the 1.5-mile intermediate speedway, which will begin a facelift -- repaving and reconfiguration— -- as soon as Sunday's race is over.
Joey Logano, the first driver to make a qualifying run, was third fastest at 175.724 mph but must start from the rear on Sunday because of an engine change during Friday's practice session. Denny Hamlin, Logano's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, claimed the fourth starting spot at 175.667 mph, with Mark Martin (175.484 mph) posting the fifth-fastest lap.
In a disappointing session for the Fords, NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Greg Biffle qualified 17th at 174.706 mph, the fastest of all the Ford drivers.
After finishing second at Martinsville to Ryan Newman in the sixth Cup race of the season, Allmendinger was gratified to continue the momentum for his No. 22 Penske Racing team.
"More than anything, I put so much pressure on my shoulders to go out there and perform," Allmendinger said. "They (his Penske team) are used to winning, running up front, getting poles. It's good just to build momentum.
"So, hopefully, we have a solid 400 miles. It's good, but we know the bigger picture's on Sunday, and I'm happy to be part of the team."
Harvick knew he had a good lap going but said he might have gotten overly excited in the second set of corners.
"That might have cost us the pole, but overall it's been a great year for us qualifying-wise so far," Harvick said. "The cars have been fast every week, and as soon as we put together a whole weekend without me making a mistake or things not going exactly right, I think everything's going to come together nicely.
"So I'm pretty happy with the way everything's gone so far this year."
Tim Andrews, Jeff Green and Tony Raines failed to qualify for the 43-car field.