Currently he has one win in 2012, but Jeff Gordon's win last week at Pocono bumped Busch out of a wild card position. "Us having one win, Jeff Gordon having one win — that's who I feel like we're really racing, is the #24 car. If we pass him back in points, obviously that will get us back in the Chase," confirmed Busch. "To lock, three is a lock, but you can have two and just try to keep yourselves in front of the guys that do have one win in case they do get a win."
Jimmie Johnson - still smarting from the late-race accident last week at Pocono that cost him a seemingly certain victory - will line up on the second row of the grid alongside Brad Keselowski.
“It was a good lap," said Johnson. "In turn 6 through the Carousel I had a moment and a slide that I think I lost a fair chunk of time on. It's tough to get a perfect lap around any road course. I wish that I didn't slide that much because I feel like I could have been on the pole. But it was a great effort and I feel really solid about our car come race time."
"We haven't qualified well this year but today was a great effort," said Keselowski of his own qualifying run. "Track position is key on road courses especially at a fast place like The Glen. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get the pole. I'm positive I could have squeezed another tenth out of it for sure. We'll take it. We can see the front and will have a good pit selection. Our car is fast."
On the third row of the grid, Marcos Ambrose - like Montoya, another road course specialist by virtue of his Australian V8 sportscar experience - will line up alongside Ryan Newman, whose boss Tony Stewart will start immediately behind them in seventh place alongside Clint Bowyer.
"I made a mistake in turn six and just didn't quite have enough rear grip there," said Ambrose about his run. That's okay. We've got a great race car and we'll just play the strategy game and see what comes out of it. I feel great about tomorrow, I feel really good about it."
Ambrose won at Watkins Glen in 2011 and is hoping for some momentum from that experience to help take him to the front again this weekend.
"We're not too far from where we were last year," he said. "Obviously, they've changed the rules some on the rear roll bar and side skirts, so we've made some adjustments to it, but we were still too free there for that hot track."
With 43 cars entered for this weekend's race, all drivers made the field for the start of the race - even Travis Kvapil, who crashed in turn 7 on his qualifying run and didn't set a time.
Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton were sent to their backup cars on Friday after a practice accident left their primary cars with heavy damage. Both drivers spun off on oil laid down by Patrick Long's engine blow-up.