Denny Hamlin scored his fourth pole position of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season with a great two-lap effort around Bristol's testing half-mile oval.
In a session where hundreths were the difference between places, Hamlin clocked a best time of 14.878s in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to secure the top spot.
The high line was the fastest, but it was also very dusty and numerous drivers lost valuable tenths as their cars got loose.
This created the unusual sight of drivers aborting their laps before crossing the line, turning around, driving the wrong way around the track before embarking on another qualifying effort.
The first to try this was Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Toyota team-mate Kyle Busch, who had already won the Truck race on Wednesday, and set pole for Friday night's Nationwide race.
But the tactic backfired and on his second attempt Busch lost the rear end of his Camry and slammed into the wall. He will start from the last row.
After damaging his car in final practice, Kurt Busch produced a great effort to take second for Furniture Row.
"It's been great to go into an old-school trash like we did today and come out with an outside pole," said Kurt.
Carl Edwards held pole for a while in his Roush Fenway Ford, but was bumped to third in the final reckoning.
"That was a really good lap," he said. "We were not that fast in practice, it felt like a very good lap. I'm really excited for the race."
In his first race since being confirmed as a full-time 2014 driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, Brian Vickers did a solid job to take fourth, while Mark Martin (pictured), who he previously shared the drive with, set the 11th best time ahead of his debut race standing in for Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas.
Like Kyle Busch, points leader Jimmie Johnson had two bites at setting a time, but he could do no better than 13th.
Ryan Truex will line up 18th for his Cup debut with Phoenix Racing. Mike Bliss was the only driver to fail to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 14.878s
2. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 14.901s +0.023s
3. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 14.910s +0.032s
4. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 14.911s +0.033s
5. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 14.923s +0.045s
6. Joey Logano Penske Ford 14.930s +0.052s
7. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 14.950s +0.072s
8. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 14.963s +0.085s
9. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 14.972s +0.094s
10. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 14.975s +0.097s
11. Mark Martin Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 15.008s +0.130s
12. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 15.021s +0.143s
13. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 15.030s +0.152s
14. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 15.035s +0.157s
15. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 15.039s +0.161s
16. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 15.044s +0.166s
17. David Ragan Front Row Ford 15.046s +0.168s
18. Ryan Truex Phoenix Chevrolet 15.062s +0.184s
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 15.103s +0.225s
20. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 15.131s +0.253s
21. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 15.134s +0.256s
22. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 15.158s +0.280s
23. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 15.159s +0.281s
24. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 15.169s +0.291s
25. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 15.172s +0.294s
26. Michael McDowell Parsosn Ford 15.185s +0.307s
27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 15.195s +0.317s
28. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 15.199s +0.321s
29. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 15.205s +0.327s
30. Casey Mears Germain Ford 15.253s +0.375s
31. David Reutimann BK Toyota 15.258s +0.380s
32. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 15.259s +0.381s
33. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet 15.309s +0.431s
34. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 15.346s +0.468s
35. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford 15.349s +0.471s
36. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 15.351s +0.473s
37. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 15.360s +0.482s
38. David Stremme Swan Toyota 15.390s +0.512s
39. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 15.410s +0.532s
40. Tony Raines Circle Sport Chevrolet 15.454s +0.576s
41. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 15.463s +0.585s
42. Scott Speed Leavine Ford 15.528s +0.650s
43. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota