When you're on a roll, you're on a roll: Kyle Busch has won the last three back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup events and four of the last five races, and just to prove that he is by no means content on stopping there he has also now captured pole position at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway tri-oval for this weekend's Windows 10 400.
CLICK: Full qualifying results from Pocono Raceway for Sunday's Windows 10 400 Sprint Cup race
It's Busch's first pole of 2015 having missed the first 11 races of the season after breaking his right leg and left foot in an Xfinity Series race at Daytona in February. In total, Busch has been on pole for 17 times in 375 Cup starts.
"I wasn't sure we had a shot for the pole,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver admitted. "We had good speed but we couldn't get the balance quite right. But we did and to get a pole here today is cool."
The pole also means that Busch how has a place in next year's Sprint Unlimited invitational event at Daytona. "I enjoy getting poles, wins, anything but if I look back at old school NASCAR, you have to win a pole to get into the Sprint Unlimited. One is all you need.
"It certainly is nice to feel this way,” Busch added. “I certainly have been through some down times as well but this year the tides are 180 degrees different. We're just trying to ride that wave as long as it will carry us. I hope it carries us on through the rest of the season."
Busch's final round lap time clocked in at 50.444s (178.416mph) which put him seven hundredths of a second ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick who had earlier topped the second round of the three-part qualifying elimination process but who couldn't quite clinch pole despite improving his time in his final run.
"Just really proud of everybody on our Jimmy John's/Budweiser team for running our fastest lap in the last session," said Harvick. "A lot of that lies on me for putting the lap together something I hadn't done over the last couple of months.
"I feel like we all did a good job there and made some good adjustments," the reigning Sprint Cup champion continued. "I feel like I probably gave up a little bit in turn 1. I got a little bit tight in the centre of that corner, but all-in-all it was a good lap and I'm glad we ran our fastest speed in the last round. That is what you have to do.
"From our goals to what we did in qualifying, I feel like we definitely overachieved today,” he added. “We needed that last round to go the way it did, running our fastest lap of the day. I knew we did a good job ... That's what we needed to do."
Lining up on the second row of the grid for Sunday afternoon's race will be Penske's Joey Logano and Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon.
"Any time we come to Pocono, this is one of our best race tracks as a team so you look forward to coming up here any time we can," said Logano. "We had a good qualifying run there and we have been starting up front here the last few weeks with a couple front row starts and this is our third. We haven't gotten the pole like we want but we have a really good qualifying average."
"I felt like we got most of it out of there," said Dillon. "We had to run twice in the second round and it was tough to call. We were probably going to make it on our first lap, but I got loose into 1 and that just kind of prolonged our third run.
"I'm proud of the guys though," he insisted. "It is a great qualifying effort, probably our best of the year so far," he added, before pointing out that the real battle was now to get the #3 race-ready. "The biggest thing is being able to stay up there. We've got to make our car good for tomorrow in race trim. If we do that we will have the prim position to start up there and have a shot to win."
The third row will be an all-SHR affair, with team co-owner Tony Stewart in fifth place alongside Kurt Busch. Stewart had earlier topped the first round of qualifying. The #14 also qualified well last weekend at Indianapolis, and overall Stewart has been looking back to something like his top form at the unique 'Tricky Triangle' after a dismal first half of his season to date - although he's far from counting his chickens just yet.
"I don't know that just two weeks in a row of qualifying justifies that discussion. I mean, we didn't finish very good last week at Indy. I would say we will reserve judgement on that for a couple more weeks," he said. "It's been solid. I just needed to work on a couple of things to make my qualifying run better."
Meanwhile Busch was satisfied with his starting position for the weekend: "I thought it was a good effort. We gained speed each run and improved the car. I thought that I drove the proper lap, we just got beat. Quick lap time in the 40's is tough to beat. We ran in the 60's. You can say there is a little bit here, a little bit there, but overall pleased with how we unloaded and we will see what we have in race trim tomorrow."
Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards make it an all-JGR fourth row, with Penske's Brad Keselowski starting in ninth alongside Jeff Gordon. The final member of the JGR line-up, Denny Hamlin, also made it into the final top-12 pole shoot-out round and will start in 11th place alongside Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports team mate Jimmie Johnson.
"Qualifying went really well," said Edwards. "Toyotas are fast and I was real happy with our effort. We struggled just a little bit in practice with speed and then we stepped it up. We got all of our JGR cars in the top-11 or something so that's pretty good. We're rolling, we've got fast cars and it's fun."
Narrowly missing out on making it through to the final round of qualifying was Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr., who will start alongside RCR's Ryan Newman on the seventh row of the grid.
"We really struggled for whatever reason in turn 1 today," sighed Truex, who won the most recent race at Pocono in June. "Just can't seem to get the balance right. We were either too tight or too loose no matter what we do. Fought the same thing there, not a big deal though I think we will be okay. We've got plenty of time to figure it out tomorrow. We've got a few cars to pass, but 13th is not too bad. We did it last week."
Behind them, Hendrick team mates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne will start from 15th and 16th positions respectively.
"Loose in," stated Earnhardt succinctly. "I thought I would back all the corners up to see if we could get a better run and get in the gas sooner, but getting into 1 it just got loose and backed into the corner and I had to chase it up the racetrack.
"First run we made in the second session we did the same thing," added the defending race champion. "Loose into 1 up the racetrack, running around there half throttle, everybody else is on the bottom digging, loose into the Tunnel. We just missed it a little bit and that is the difference between 15th and making that last round."
Kahne on the other hand was at least relieved to have done better than the frankly dismal 35th place he'd ended up in the sole practice session earlier on Friday.
"Yeah, it's much better than where we were in practice," he said. "We made nice gains with our Aquafina Chevrolet and gained a lot of speed, but not quite enough. We just didn't quite get where we wanted to be. Tried another run right there at the end and was a little bit tighter, so that didn't work. But hopefully tomorrow we will put together a strong day and build a nice package for Sunday."
The drivers get two further 50 minute practice sessions on Saturday to work on their race set-ups before the race itself which is due to the get the green flag shortly after 1.30pm local time (6.30pm BST) on Sunday.
With 43 cars entered into this weekend's event, there were no drivers going home earlier and everyone made the grid. Ganassi's Jamie McMurray will start from 17th alongside RCR's Paul Menard, while Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer will start in 19th place next to the remaining SHR car driven by Danica Patrick.
News that MWR team co-owner Rob Kauffman has bought a stake in the Chip Ganasssi Racing team was the talk of the paddock on Friday, with questions immediately flying about exactly what the move meant for the future of both teams in 2016.
With Aaron's sponsorship of the #55 car (initially driven by Brian Vickers at the start of the year and now currently helmed by David Ragan, who will start Sunday's race from 24th) coming to an end at the end of the season there is speculation that MWR and Ganassi might be merged into a three-car line-up, with Bowyer set to join McMurray and current team mate Kyle Larson.
However the truth of the matter is that other than confirming that he'd bought a stake in Ganassi, Kauffman has revealed nothing further about his plans and his partner at MWR Michael Waltrip has also had no comments to make about the future of the team.
"My focus is on 2015 and fulfilling the commitment we have made to our partners and Toyota which is placing our teams in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup," said Waltrip. "There are a lot of details yet to be sorted regarding 2016. I will work closely with Rob Kauffman and our sponsors to formulate the best way forward."
Motorsports veteran Felix Sabates, who is already a partner in CGR along with Chip Ganassi himself, has also said he's not going planning on making a move away from the team any time soon.
"I'm not going anywhere," Sabates' said in a statement. "This is about making our team stronger, a three-car team is stronger than a two car. But the rumours that Rob is buying me out are not true. My last race will be five years from September 9th. I will be 75 years old then and will be done."
One of the complicating factors in any potential merger between MWR and Ganassi is that the former has an engine deal with Toyota while the latter is firmly in the bow tie brigade with Chevrolet units.
"We've spoken with Rob Kauffman and understand he has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing," said Ed Laukes, vice president marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales. "Rob has not disclosed the plans for Michael Waltrip Racing past the 2015 racing season. Toyota and TRD [Toyota Racing Development] remain focused on winning races and championships with our team partners this year."
While MWR itself has been somewhat in the doldrums in the last year, the performance of fellow Toyota-powered team JGR shows that engine power is certainly not one of the culprits. That would be underscored still further if Busch were to win his fourth race in a row on Sunday, or if one of his team mates Kenseth, Edwards or Hamlin were to find victory lane for the second time in 2015.
Bowyer himself was the highest-placed finisher from the Toyota camp when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced here 12 months ago, with Hamlin the only other representative from the manufacturer in the top ten when the chequered flag came out. Kyle Busch retired just 23 laps into the race after suffering an engine failure, something that must absolutely not be allowed to happen again in 2015 if he is to keep his hopes of making the Chase championship play-offs on track which require him to finish in the top 30 in the points after September's night race at Richmond International Raceway on September 12.
See full qualifying results from Pocono Raceway ahead of Sunday's Windows 10 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race