Matt Kenseth captured his first pole of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup following a close-fought qualifying session at Fontana.
The Joe Gibbs racer, a three-time winner of the event, lapped the 2-mile oval in 38.438s (187.315 mph).
That was enough to deny points leader Brad Keselowski, a winner two weeks ago at Las Vegas, pole by just over four hundredths of a second.
The Penske driver nevertheless starts on the front row for the fourth consecutive event this season.
Friday pacesetter Jimmie Johnson, himself a five-time winner at Fontana, was third ahead of Stewart-Haas's Kevin Harvick, who had been provisionally fastest heading into the final two minutes.
Both Johnson and Harvick got within 0.1s of Kenseth's pole time.
Clint Bowyer claimed fifth ahead of Jeff Gordon and Las Vegas poleman Joey Logano, while Marcos Ambrose beat Carl Edwards - who triumphed in an incident-filled race last weekend at Bristol - to eighth.
Daytona winner Dale Earnhardt Jr failed to make it past the second phase of qualifying for the third consecutive event.
The Hendrick Motorsports man will start from 15th, directly behind Kenseth's stablemates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 38.438s 2. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 38.481s +0.043s 3. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 38.516s +0.078s 4. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 38.523s +0.085s 5. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 38.614s +0.176s 6. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 38.630s +0.192s 7. Joey Logano Penske Ford 38.653s +0.215s 8. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 38.707s +0.269s 9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 38.735s +0.297s 10. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 38.753s +0.315s 11. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet 38.757s +0.319s 12. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet 38.767s +0.329s 13. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 38.851s Q1 14. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 38.853s Q1 15. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 38.858s Q1 16. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet 38.875s Q1 17. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 38.884s Q1 18. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 38.979s Q1 19. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 39.020s Q1 20. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet 39.139s Q1 21. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 39.140s Q1 22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 39.160s Q1 23. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet 39.239s Q1 24. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 38.899s Q1 25. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet 39.019s Q1 26. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 39.062s Q1 27. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 39.067s Q1 28. Justin Allgaier HScott Chevrolet 39.134s Q1 29. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 39.147s Q1 30. Matt Crafton Childress Chevrolet 39.207s Q1 31. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet 39.220s Q1 32. Parker Kligerman Swan Toyota 39.362s Q1 33. David Reutimann Front Row Ford 39.513s Q1 34. Cole Whitt Swan Toyota 39.664s Q1 35. Travis Kvapil Go FAS Ford 39.668s Q1 36. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet 39.699s Q1 37. Brian Scott Childress Chevrolet 39.725s Q1 38. Josh Wise Parsons Ford 39.766s Q1 39. Ryan Truex BK Toyota 39.854s Q1 40. Alex Bowman BK Toyota 39.863s Q1 41. David Ragan Front Row Ford 39.937s Q1 42. Joe Nemechek Waltrip Toyota 39.998s Q1 43. Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet -
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