Bayne on the other hand was feeling pretty good about his own sixth place. The 21-year-old has a limited Cup season with the Wood Brothers team in the #21 car and hasn't had much opportunity to compete of late. With the car not locked in to any race on owner points, the pressure is always on to first and foremost ensure he makes the grid on speed. To do it so emphatically against such high calibre competition is no mean feat.
"For taking two or three weeks off, it is tough to come out here and qualify decent," admitted Bayne. "We were really loose in practice but they got it tightened back up for me so I could get on the gas on exit. That was the biggest thing for me, being able to get wide open and stay in it instead of having to breathe it coming up to the wall. I feel pretty good about that time."
The remainder of the top ten is filled out by Martin Truex Jr. (Martin's MWR team mate) in seventh alongside last week's race winner Marcos Ambrose in eighth, and Landon Cassill joining Paul Menard on row five.
The Cup drivers are sharing track time at Michigan this weekend with the Camping World Truck Series, which is staging its race on Saturday afternoon after the final practice for the Cup race. That means the track will feel quite different by the time that Mark Martin and Carl Edwards lead the field to the green flag.
"We will have to see after the truck race, those guys always put on a heck of a show and they move around and may be will widen things out," said Edwards. At present, "The grooves are pretty narrow ... If they were to drop the green right now everyone would line up and it would be awhile before people could start to pass."
"I think what we'll see is right now the groove is right around the middle and I feel like the groove will move down before it moves up," agreed Truex Jr. "Especially with restarts and guys shooting the bottom like they did here last time ... I feel like it's a little bit wider now than it was earlier just because guys are getting loose and chasing it up going in. That's making it a little bit wider. I feel like in the race the groove will get low before it gets higher.
Meanwhile the Nationwide teams are over the border in Canada for their annual visit to the Circuit Gills Villeneuve F1 Grand Prix venue in Montreal. Local hero Alex Tagliani - on a weekend sabbatical from the IZOD IndyCar Series - claimed pole position for Saturday's race alongside Sam Hornish Jr., who will then fly down to Michigan in time to take over the #22 Penske Racing car for Sunday's Cup race. In the meantime, Parker Kligerman has taken over Michigan practice and qualifying duties for the team in Hornish's absence.
Former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve qualified in third place at the track named after his late father. That puts him alongside Danica Patrick on the grid, which could lead to an interesting start as Villeneuve notoriously punted Patrick out of the race at their last join Nationwide race at Road America in June. Neither driver is known for backing down from a confrontation.
Full qualifying and Friday practice times
Full Nationwide Series qualifying times
from Montreal are also available.