Marcos Ambrose claimed his second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole in qualifying for Sunday's race at Sears Point.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver, who had taken Michigan pole at a record pace last week, was once again the benchmark in qualifying, this time at a track where he has excelled in the past but where he has yet to win for the first time.
The Australian set a time of 1m15.203s, improving around seven tenths from his best in practice.
"I don't know if I got it all, but I got a lot of it," said Ambrose following his pole-setting lap, which underlined his status as favourite to claim victory.
Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon, a five-time pole and race-winner at the Sonoma track, came closest to Ambrose's time having led practice earlier on Friday, with his team-mate Jimmie Johnson also quick in third.
Roush Fenway Racing Fords excelled in qualifying, sweeping the top three for a while and all finishing among the top 11 on the grid, led by Greg Biffle in fourth.
The Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas also enjoyed a solid session, finishing fifth and sixth with Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer respectively, followed by Kyle Busch in seventh for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Last year's winner Kurt Busch was an impressive eighth for the underfunded Phoenix Racing, while Roush's Matt Kenseth and Stewart Haas' Ryan Newman rounded out the top 10.
2007 Sears Point race-winner Juan Pablo Montoya (Earnhardt Ganassi) qualified 12th, his best in six outings at the 1.99-mile road course.
Scott Speed was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 22nd, while Brian Simo failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 1m15.203s 2. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 1m15.357s + 0.154s 3. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 1m15.574s + 0.371s 4. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 1m15.632s + 0.429s 5. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 1m15.661s + 0.458s 6. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 1m15.666s + 0.463s 7. Kyle Busch Gubbs Toyota 1m15.704s + 0.501s 8. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet 1m15.764s + 0.561s 9. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 1m15.790s + 0.587s 10. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 1m15.802s + 0.599s 11. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 1m15.807s + 0.604s 12. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 1m15.955s + 0.752s 13. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 1m15.995s + 0.792s 14. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 1m16.044s + 0.841s 15. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 1m16.046s + 0.843s 16. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 1m16.052s + 0.849s 17. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge 1m16.064s + 0.861s 18. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 1m16.129s + 0.926s 19. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 1m16.192s + 0.989s 20. Casey Mears Germain Ford 1m16.220s + 1.017s 21. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 1m16.254s + 1.051s 22. Scott Speed Leavine Ford 1m16.283s + 1.080s 23. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 1m16.343s + 1.140s 24. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 1m16.356s + 1.153s 25. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 1m16.431s + 1.228s 26. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 1m16.434s + 1.231s 27. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 1m16.601s + 1.398s 28. Boris Said FAS Lane Ford 1m16.811s + 1.608s 29. David Ragan Front Row Ford 1m16.895s + 1.692s 30. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 1m16.906s + 1.703s 31. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 1m16.979s + 1.776s 32. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 1m17.062s + 1.859s 33. David Mayhew Parsons Ford 1m17.171s + 1.968s 34. Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 1m17.396s + 2.193s 35. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 1m17.483s + 2.280s 36. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 1m17.751s + 2.548s 37. Chris Cook Humphrey Smith Toyota 1m17.805s + 2.602s 38. JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 1m17.931s + 2.728s 39. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 1m18.009s + 2.806s 40. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 1m18.100s + 2.897s 41. Tomy Drissi Baldwin Chevrolet 1m19.091s + 3.888s 42. Landon Cassill BK Toyota 1m20.187s + 4.984s 43. Stephen Leicht Circle Sport Chevrolet 1m18.136s + 2.933s Did not qualify: Brian Simo Inception Toyota 1m18.658s + 3.455s