"That was actually a good pickup for us," said Bowyer of his third position on the grid. "I think it will be a good starting spot. That's a fast lap. It's unreal how much that gets your attention. The thing kind of wiggled — I arched it big because I saw some cars getting tight and that's what I'd been fighting — tight off of two. Arched it real big getting into one and I was a little slow getting to the gas. Coulda, would, shoulda."
Kyle Busch's comments underscored just how much faster the racetrack was performing and how scary the extra 10mph was in reality when he said, "We're all just high-fiving each other because we're coming back in one piece. It's crazy fast out there."
He added: "It's not necessarily the top speed we are going down the straightaways is any different than we've ever been, but the minimum speed — you're carrying so much corner speed here that it's just amazing that you don't fall off that much through the turns. White-knuckling, baby. That's what it's all about."
Non-Chase drivers Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman claim the third row, with Kahne's Hendrick Motorsports team mate Jimmie Johnson lining up on the fourth row alongside Joey Logano. Other Chase contenders include Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick starting from tenth with Roush Fenway Racing duo Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth alongside each other in 11th and 12th.
Martin Truex Jr. will start from 16th place in the third MWR car, while Jeff Gordon could only manage a disappointing 19th place on the grid. That's still better than current points leader Brad Keselowski starting from 25th, however - or reigning champion Tony Stewart who was only able to post the 33rd fastest time.
"We just have more work to do than we wanted for Sunday," said Keselowski after qualifying ended. "Race day is what counts and we have some more practice time to work on [during Saturday]."
Denny Hamlin took part in qualifying on Friday and went on to claim ninth on the grid, just a day after taking a hard hit in pre-event testing of the newly-laid surface of the Speedway that he admitted had left him dizzy.
"It was the first time I really had some dizziness after a hit," said Hamlin. "Usually I'm sore or your jaw hurts from clenching your jaw. This is the first time I really got dizzy.
"Obviously the severity of it, and the speeds we were running, it was a wise thing to do anyway," Hamlin continued. "Just bell-rung, typical hard hit, ring-your-bell kind of thing. You get jarred around, you feel a little out of it at first. Everything came back okay."
In the aftermath of Dale Earnhardt Jr. being sidelined with concussion, there was considerably more focus on Hamlin's fitness to participate than usual. Although he was able to drive the wrecked #11 back to the garage, Hamlin was still dispatched to the medical centre for a check-over and even asked to return an hour later for a second check before being allowed to get behind the wheel of the back-up car.