Charlotte NASCAR: Greg Biffle takes pole at record pace

Greg Biffle claimed his third pole position of the season in qualifying for Saturday night's fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase round at Charlotte

Charlotte NASCAR: Greg Biffle takes pole at record pace

The Roush Fenway driver, who has had a lacklustre start to his title campaign, set a new track record at the mile-and-a-half speedway with a lap at an average speed of 193.708 mph. It marks the seventh time a new benchmark has been set at a venue in 2012.

Veteran Mark Martin got closest to Biffle's speed in his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota and will start alongside him on the front row.

"It feels so good, we've been working so hard," said Biffle. "We've kind of been down in the dumps a little bit cause we haven't started out this Chase as strong as we've been all season."

Stewart-Haas Racing's Ryan Newman was third fastest and best among the Chevrolets. He also beat the previous track record, while Martin's team-mate Clint Bowyer was fourth ahead of fellow Chase contenders Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports), the third MWR Toyota of Martin Truex Jr and last week's Talladega winner Matt Kenseth (Roush Fenway).

Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, currently third in the play-off standings, had been fastest earlier in practice and qualified ninth behind his team-mate Kyle Busch.

Chase leader Brad Keselowski was 20th fastest, beating only one of the other title contenders - reigning champion Tony Stewart, who was 32nd.

"Qualifying just hasn't been our strong suit this year, I don't have an answer why," said Keselowski. "But in the race, the [cars] have been incredible. I'll take a good race car over a good qualifying car any day of the week and we've had that this year."

Kurt Busch was best among those running with a new team this weekend in 21st at the wheel of Furniture Row's #78 Chevrolet.

Regan Smith, whose seat has been taken by Busch from this weekend, could not match an impressive seventh in practice during his qualifying run and was only 26th in Dale Earnhardt Jr's regular Hendrick Chevrolet.

Meanwhile AJ Allmendinger was 38th on his Cup return, driving Phoenix Racing's #51 Chevrolet.

Wood Brothers' Trevor Bayne was fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 16th, while Cole Whitt, Scott Riggs, Josh Wise and Joe Nemechek failed to make the field.

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                     Time     Gap
 1.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford            27.877s
 2.  Mark Martin         Waltrip Toyota               27.927s  + 0.050s
 3.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       27.943s  + 0.066s
 4.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota               27.973s  + 0.096s
 5.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet           27.980s  + 0.103s
 6.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota               27.991s  + 0.114s
 7.  Matt Kenseth        Roush Fenway Ford            27.996s  + 0.119s
 8.  Kyle Busch          Gibbs Toyota                 28.001s  + 0.124s
 9.  Denny Hamlin        Gibbs Toyota                 28.008s  + 0.131s
10.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet           28.031s  + 0.154s
11.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet          28.032s  + 0.155s
12.  Joey Logano         Gibbs Toyota                 28.043s  + 0.166s
13.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet           28.094s  + 0.217s
14.  Sam Hornish Jr      Penske Dodge                 28.174s  + 0.297s
15.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota         28.183s  + 0.306s
16.  Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford           28.229s  + 0.352s
17.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                   28.230s  + 0.353s
18.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                   28.231s  + 0.354s
19.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford            28.236s  + 0.359s
20.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Dodge                 28.238s  + 0.361s
21.  Kurt Busch          Furniture Row Chevrolet      28.239s  + 0.362s
22.  Scott Speed         Leavine Ford                 28.318s  + 0.441s
23.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet  28.318s  + 0.441s
24.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet          28.329s  + 0.452s
25.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford               28.364s  + 0.487s
26.  Regan Smith         Hendrick Chevrolet           28.394s  + 0.517s
27.  Mike Bliss          Humphrey Smith Toyota        28.417s  + 0.540s
28.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                 28.417s  + 0.540s
29.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford            28.423s  + 0.546s
30.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet  28.441s  + 0.564s
31.  David Stremme       Inception Toyota             28.468s  + 0.591s
32.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       28.483s  + 0.606s
33.  Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                 28.483s  + 0.606s
34.  David Reutimann     Baldwin Chevrolet            28.493s  + 0.616s
35.  JJ Yeley            Max Q Ford                   28.520s  + 0.643s
36.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford               28.533s  + 0.656s
37.  Landon Cassill      BK Toyota                    28.546s  + 0.669s
38.  AJ Allmendinger     Phoenix Chevrolet            28.550s  + 0.673s
39.  Reed Sorenson       Humphrey Smith Toyota        28.556s  + 0.679s
40.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet          28.652s  + 0.775s
41.  Timmy Hill          FAS Lane Ford                28.689s  + 0.812s
42.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                    28.918s  + 1.041s
43.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet            28.982s  + 1.105s

Did not qualify:

     Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                 28.581s  + 0.704s
     Josh Wise           Front Row Ford               28.858s  + 0.981s
     Scott Riggs         R3 Chevrolet                 29.191s  + 1.314s
     Cole Whitt          Circle Sport Chevrolet       29.425s  + 1.548s
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