Proving that Ambrose's form was no fluke, his Richard Petty Motorsport team mate Aric Almirola took fifth place - although he reckoned he could have done even better. "It was good, but it's one of those laps that when you're done you're just like, 'Dang it,' because you could have been that much better to get the pole.
"I think our cars are gonna be great in the race," Almirola added. "I really feel good about it. I feel like our car in race trim will be really good, so I'm just excited about it and really proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports."
While Bowyer wasn't talking to anyone much about anything, Truex was admitting that he's hoped for better than seventh on the grid after pushing Logano hard at the top of the timesheets in the earlier practice session.
"It was okay. We were obviously wanting more. We were great in practice and just missed our air pressure a little bit there for the conditions with it cooling off," he explained. "When you're that good in practice you kind of talk yourselves out of changing too much. We just missed it a little bit there on the air pressure and the car didn't have enough grip and just didn't come in good enough."
Kyle Busch was similarly underwhelmed with eighth place for the start of Sunday's race: "It was alright. Just disappointed we didn't get more out of it, but that's all she wrote. Our qualifying times have been better. It sort of seems to be going our way."
And while he also admitted that he had "missed it there a little bit," the ever-present veteran of the field Mark Martin was still counting his good fortunes with another top ten qualifying spot in 2012: "I'm so blessed to get to drive these race cars. They're so good. I could've put together a little bit better lap than that."
After Johnson in tenth place there are three former Chase contenders - Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle - starting right behind, with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray in 14th ahead of Hendrick Motorsports duo Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last week's winner at Phoenix Kevin Harvick starts from 23rd place, while reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart slumped to 35th spot in what's proved a lacklustre follow-up to his title-winning season in 2011.
Denny Hamlin had a disastrous qualifying set-up and slumped to 41st place on the grid - and only made it in on car owner points, as he would have been outside the top 43 on speed alone. Instead, the four cars that failed to make the grid for Sunday's race were Reed Sorenson, Stephen Leicht, Jason Leffler and Joe Nemecheck.
"Whoa!!! Bad miscalculation of travels in qualifying," Hamlin admitted later in a Twitter posting. "Gonna be fun passing 42 cars in the race."
Hamlin will have two practice sessions on Saturday to get the car up to scratch in race trim ahead of the final NASCAR race of 2012, which will be held at the same time that the F1 championship returns to the US at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas.