Rookie Brian Scott emerged with a surprise NASCAR Sprint Cup pole position at Talladega as the new knockout qualifying system made its restrictor plate track debut.
With drafting being critical to pace at the large superspeedway, all three qualifying segments featured big packs of cars trying to work together.
The five-minute pole shootout was almost a non-event as the 12 participants all sat in the pits until there were just two minutes to go, with no one willing to take the slowest spot at the head of the train.
Richard Childress protege Scott played things best and emerged on pole for Circle Sport, in only his fifth Cup event, having also topped the second part of qualifying.
Fellow Childress man Paul Menard joins him on the front row. JTG Daugherty's AJ Allmendinger and Germain driver Casey Mears share row two.
The Chevrolet teams proved most adept at the format, with 11 of the 12 round three contenders driving for the marque. Stewart-Haas and Childress both got all their cars into the final part.
Roush Fenway's Carl Edwards was the sole Ford interloper in 10th.
The leading Toyota was Michael Waltrip Racing's Brian Vickers back in 19th.
Joey Logano's run of reaching the final part of qualifying at every race since the new format was introduced ended as he was eliminated in round two and left in 16th on the grid.
Dale Earnhardt Jr, winner of the previous 'plate track' Cup round at Daytona in February, was among those who did not even get past the opening segment, qualifying 31st.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Brian Scott Circle Sport Chevrolet 48.293s 2. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 48.391s +0.098s 3. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 48.436s +0.143s 4. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet 48.518s +0.225s 5. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet 48.520s +0.227s 6. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet 48.536s +0.243s 7. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 49.109s +0.816s 8. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 49.261s +0.968s 9. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 49.458s +1.165s 10. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 49.459s +1.166s 11. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 49.492s +1.199s 12. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 50.678s +2.385s 13. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 49.117s Round 2 14. Michael McDowell Leavine Ford 49.118s Round 2 15. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 49.130s Round 2 16. Joey Logano Penske Ford 49.138s Round 2 17. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 49.138s Round 2 18. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet 49.336s Round 2 19. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 49.352s Round 2 20. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 49.478s Round 2 21. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 49.494s Round 2 22. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 49.499s Round 2 23. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet 50.165s Round 2 24. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 50.248s Round 2 25. Ryan Truex BK Toyota 48.385s Round 1 26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 48.386s Round 1 27. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 48.404s Round 1 28. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota 48.411s Round 1 29. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 48.411s Round 1 30. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet 48.420s Round 1 31. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 48.421s Round 1 32. Cole Whitt BK Toyota 48.432s Round 1 33. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet 48.500s Round 1 34. Alex Bowman BK Toyota 48.510s Round 1 35. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 48.516s Round 1 36. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 48.549s Round 1 37. Josh Wise Parsons Chevrolet 48.602s Round 1 38. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet 48.661s Round 1 39. Terry Labonte Go FAS Ford 48.672s Round 1 40. Justin Allgaier HScott Chevrolet 48.800s Round 1 41. David Ragan Front Row Ford 48.924s Round 1 42. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 49.138s Round 1 43. Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet 49.262s Round 1 Did not qualify: Dave Blaney Humphrey Smith Toyota 48.967s Round 1 Joe Nemechek Robinson Toyota 49.221s Round 1 Eric McClure Front Row Ford 49.268s Round 1 JJ Yeley Xxxtreme Toyota 49.835s Round 1