Carl Edwards successfully clinched his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position of the year and his first-ever for Joe Gibbs Racing since switching to the team from Roush Fenway Racing over the winter.
Edwards won his 14th career pole in 392 Cup races with a final round lap of 28.179s (135.164mph) at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. He finished three hundredths of a second faster than Penske's Joey Logano and Michael Waltrip Racing's David Ragan who were in a dead-heat in second place.
CLICK: Full qualifying results from New Hampshire Motor Speedway
"Everybody at JGR has been working so hard, these Toyotas are fast," said the 25-year-old racer, who has already picked up his first win for the team in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway but who has never been on pole at NHMS before now. "I've struggled at this race track, so this is big for me personally."
Logano gets the nod for second place on the grid, with the situation in the owner points standings acting as the tiebreaker between himself and Ragan.
"Not that I'm complaining about it, but it's not much fun finishing second," sighed Logano. "Being so close to getting trophies and pole flags and all the fun stuff. There's not really much fun that happens when you finish second, but we're close, we've got speed in our race car once again.
"It's nice to know we've got a fast race car, and I think it's pretty good in race trim as well," he added. "We weren't very good in qualifying trim in practice. We changed a lot of things and kind of lit it up a little bit, so it's something good to know for some things to work on in practice tomorrow and try to make it happen."
Ragan - who spent several races as Edwards' team mate at JGR when he took over the #18 car while regular driver Kyle Busch recovered from a broken right leg and left foot sustained in an accident at Daytona - will start Sunday's 5-hour Energy 301 from third place alongside the very man he sat in for. Busch - who won last week's race at Kentucky - was just 0.092s off Edwards' pole winning laptime.
The third JGR car of Denny Hamlin will start from fifth, making it four Toyotas in the top five for Sunday's race. The highest-placed Chevrolet was in the hands of Stewart-Haas Racing's Kurt Busch who will start alongside Hamlin in sixth place.
"Good qualifying session to advance to each of the rounds and to make adjustments," said a satisfied Kurt. "We did exactly what we needed to do and that last run we had the car right on edge with the front tyres and the rear tyres hooked to pick up a little bit on that second lap, but we dropped six hundredths on that second lap. If we could have gained six hundredths then that would have put us fourth. It is tight!"
Row four will see Hendrick Motorsport's Jimmie Johnson lining up next to the final member of the JGR contingent, Matt Kenseth. Johnson's team mate Kasey Kahne will start from ninth place alongside the second Penske of Brad Keselowski, with the top 12 rounded out by Chip Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray and SHR"s Kevin Harvick.
"That was a decent qualifying session for us," said Kahne, who is still seeking his first win of the season and with it that all-important Chase berth. "I had to lift a little off turn 4, like late exit right up by the wall off of (Turn) 4 so I didn't hit the wall there that last lap or I think it would have been a touch more. Still a decent run, hopefully we will have a couple of good practices tomorrow for our Great Clips Chevrolet and get it where it needs to be - if you can figure out how to pass here you could run really well."
Hillman Smith Motorsports's Landon Cassill narrowly missed out on making it to the final pole-shootout round by just 0.038s. He will start on row 7 alongside Edwards' former Roush team mate Greg Biffle, with Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. in 15th ahead of Wood Brothers' Ryan Blaney who was relieved to actually make it onto the grid for this week's race having missed out for the last two events after qualifying was rained out and the starting line-ups set by owner points.
"The past couple weekends have been pretty tough on us with Daytona and Kentucky getting rained out, knowing we had a fast car," admitted Blaney, who is only running a limited part-time Cup campaign in 2015. "I think we've got a fast SKF Ford Fusion for this weekend. It's not the starting spot we wanted, but I think our race car will be pretty good and we'll find that out tomorrow in practice."
Ganassi's Kyle Larson was 17th fastest and missed out on the pole shoot-out, a disappointment after the youngster had earlier topped the sole Friday practice session with a lap of 28.486s (133.708mph) which had been nine thousandths of a second faster than Kyle Busch in the session.
"I'm just disappointed in myself," Larson admitted, adding: "But I like racing here. It's different than a lot of the race tracks. At a lot of the races we run, there's another track like it. So, I like coming here.
"It is tough to pass, which is frustrating," he continued. "Actually here, qualifying trim is not a whole lot quicker. In practice when we mocked-up, I think we were like two tenths quicker than we did in race trim practice. So, it's not like it's significant like it is at a 1.5-mile, but your tyre pressures are bumped up so you have more grip. It's just natural to go faster."
MWR's Clint Bowyer will start from 18th ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. (HMS) and Danica Patrick (SHR). The pair clashed last week at Kentucky after brake issues saw Earnhardt crash into Patrick leaving her fuming at her old Xfinity Series team boss, meaning that some bridges have had to be repaired in the intervening days.
"It wasn't a great qualifying, but it was okay," said Patrick. "I don't think that the changes that we made for qualifying were good. ou learn with every mistake and we know not to do that and waste a run tomorrow, but it would have been nice to learn it in a practice session, but we didn't. We made the most of it.
"The car was loose, it was hard to handle, it was all over the place," she admitted. "But we made it better each run and went a little bit faster each run; which is something that I can't say we have done all year long. I think that is a positive for us."
Further back, Earnhardt's team mate Jeff Gordon could only manage 23rd place on the grid alongside Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon. Patrick's current tean boss Tony Stewart was bumped out of making it through to the second round of qualifying - ironically by Patrick herself - and will have to start from 25th place in the #14 car. His old team mate Ryan Newman will be alongside him on row 13 in the RCR #31.
"Just really struggling a little bit getting into the corner," explained Newman of his disappointing session. "Not a good day for our qualifying average here at Loudon, but I guess when you have seven poles you are going to hurt your average at some point! We will regroup a little bit. Not at all the day we wanted for Quicken Loans or anybody else. Days like today make you work a little harder and be a little stronger."
Richard Petty Motorsports drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Aric Almirola will start from 27th and 29th respectively, while row 16 is an all-Roush affair with team mates Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. starting from 31st and 32nd respectively.
Reed Sorenson, who is at the wheel of the Premium Motorsports #62 this weekend, was the only driver to fail to qualify for the 43-car starting grid and who will go home early as a consequence. It's the fifth time this season that he's not been able to make the start of the race.
See full qualifying results from New Hampshire Motor Speedway