Jimmie Johnson kept his momentum running from last week's Martinsville win to claim pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Texas.
The Hendrick driver bounced back from being only 27th fastest in Friday practice to set a flying lap of 28.261 seconds at an average speed of 191.076 mph.
It stood unbeaten for the rest of the session as another 26 subsequent cars attempted, but failed, to knock the Chase leader from pole.
"It was a white knuckle lap," admitted Johnson. "A couple of opportunities kind of lost control there but staying on the throttle definitely kept the car pointing in the right direction and I blasted off a great lap.
"We weren't totally happy when practice ended but we felt a lot better than what the chart showed."
Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle came closest to Johnson's benchmark, running a lap a tenth of a second slower then the five-time champion managed.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch, title contender Clint Bowyer and his Michael Waltrip Racing team-mate Martin Truex Jr rounded out the top five, followed by Busch's team-mate Joey Logano.
Penske's Brad Keselowski, Johnson's main title rival, had his best qualifying since the Chase started and will line up eighth on the grid, beside Wood Brothers' Trevor Bayne who was seventh fastest at the wheel of the #21 Ford, the best-placed among the non-guaranteed drivers.
Roush Fenway duo Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth completed the top 10.
Stephen Leicht, Kelly Bires and David Stremme failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 28.261s 2. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 28.364s + 0.103s 3. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 28.402s + 0.141s 4. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 28.411s + 0.150s 5. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 28.422s + 0.161s 6. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 28.457s + 0.196s 7. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 28.480s + 0.219s 8. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 28.491s + 0.230s 9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 28.500s + 0.239s 10. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 28.502s + 0.241s 11. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 28.527s + 0.266s 12. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 28.530s + 0.269s 13. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 28.573s + 0.312s 14. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 28.575s + 0.314s 15. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 28.583s + 0.322s 16. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 28.602s + 0.341s 17. Sam Hornish Jr Penske Dodge 28.628s + 0.367s 18. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 28.663s + 0.402s 19. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 28.669s + 0.408s 20. Casey Mears Germain Ford 28.672s + 0.411s 21. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 28.717s + 0.456s 22. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 28.724s + 0.463s 23. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 28.757s + 0.496s 24. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 28.790s + 0.529s 25. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 28.810s + 0.549s 26. AJ Allmendinger Phoenix Chevrolet 28.817s + 0.556s 27. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 28.823s + 0.562s 28. JJ Yeley Max Q Chevrolet 28.836s + 0.575s 29. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 28.842s + 0.581s 30. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 28.899s + 0.638s 31. Scott Speed Leavine Ford 28.899s + 0.638s 32. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 28.948s + 0.687s 33. David Ragan Front Row Ford 28.958s + 0.697s 34. Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 28.959s + 0.698s 35. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 28.968s + 0.707s 36. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 28.975s + 0.714s 37. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 29.022s + 0.761s 38. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 29.053s + 0.792s 39. Reed Sorenson Humphrey Smith Toyota 29.077s + 0.816s 40. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 29.204s + 0.943s 41. Landon Cassill BK Toyota 29.287s + 1.026s 42. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford 29.696s + 1.435s 43. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 29.097s + 0.836s Did not qualify: Stephen Leicht Circle Sport Chevrolet 29.173s + 0.912s Kelly Bires Go Green Ford 29.494s + 1.233s David Stremme Inception Toyota 30.568s + 2.307s