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