JTG Daugherty Racing's AJ Allmendinger will start this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International from pole position after managing to edge out Martin Truex Jr. for the top spot in qualifying on Saturday.
Allmendinger posted a second round best time of 68.993s (127.839mph) on the 2.454 mile, 11-turn road course to see off his Furniture Row Racing rival by 0.146s.
CLICK: Full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying results from Watkins Glen International
It's Allmendinger's second pole of the year and his fourth in 249 series starts, with the first also coming at a road course when he started at the front at Sonoma Raceway in June. The 33-year-old from California has never managed to start from pole at Watkins Glen before, however.
Success in qualifying means that Allmendinger has now swept both of the two road course events on the 2015 Cup calendar, and it gives him the upper hand as he bids to make it back-to-back victories at the Glen after least year's narrow victory over road course specialist Marcos Ambrose.
"We can lead to Turn 1 at least," he said after clinching pole. "Going into tomorrow, I feel happy with what we've got. But, we'll see. It's a tough race. This Kroger/Bush's Beans Chevy is going to be fast and hopefully we'll be reliving last year.
"I'm just proud of all my guys," he added. "These guys deserve it. I want to lift them on my shoulders and carry them to Victory Lane. Last year was special and it just makes you want to do it more and more."
Allmendinger hadn't exactly been looking on song so far in practice on Friday, and was delighted to have been able to overcome his teething problems overnight in time for qualifying.
"I was frustrated yesterday and I probably wasn't helping. I was overdriving trying to get more than what we there and I didn't do a good job yesterday," he explained, adding that getting pole is crucial at a road course like Watkins Glen.
"It's so critical around here. Everybody is so close. It's tough to pass. You start beating and banging on each other. Your fenders get torn up here and you can't have that. It's very aerodynamic-dependent," he said. "But the outside row, there ain't nothing there. It's all inside here that I put the pressure on myself and I'm going to go try to make it happen."
Meanwhile, Truex was left ruing those slight errors during his final lap that made the difference between pole and second place on the grid for Sunday's race.
"I missed my marks a little bit in the Bus Stop there," he said. "I missed it by eight inches or a foot, just a tiny little bit. And we may have been close if I'd hit that right. But all in all, it was a great lap for our Furniture Row Chevy.
"I can't thank all my guys enough. They've done a really nice job this weekend. We made some big gains yesterday. I felt good about the car after practice. And then you go to bed and you think about it all night and you think about hitting your marks and what it's going to take to do everything right.
"I'm proud of what we did today and we've definitely got a really good car in race trim. I'm looking forward to racing here tomorrow," he summarised.
Behind the Allmendinger/Truex front row, the second row will be an all-Stewart-Haas Racing affair comprised of team mates Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.
"That was all I had," admitted Stewart, who has had a tough season so far and is looking for a boost this weekend from one of his most successful venues. "I'm very content with that. Three good weeks of qualifying that really makes me happy; to do it at three different tracks with three different packages. That is an awesome way to start the weekend for sure. I thought we had a decent day yesterday, today is even better - hopefully we can get our race package a little bit better for tomorrow too."
Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon will line up in fifth place on the grid alongside Ganassi's Kyle Larson. Gordon is making his last start here before retiring from NASCAR at the end of the season, and would dearly love to do so with one last victory here that would make five in total and match the all-time wins record currently held by Stewart.
"Fifth is a great starting position here at Watkins Glen," said Gordon. "Not as good as we were hoping for, but based on yesterday I feel like the car was really solid and we could get a little bit more out of it in some areas but that just didn't happen. We ran just a little bit slower than we did yesterday and some other guys picked up.
"We worked really hard on race set-up yesterday, so I'm hoping that this fifth position is close enough to the front that all that work will pay-off for the race," he added."
Gordon's team mate Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start on the fourth row of the grid alongside Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch, who is himself a two-time winner here. Busch's run of three-back-to-back wins came to an end last weekend at Pocono when he ran out of gas on the final lap, but he will once again be looking for victory or at the very least a result strong enough to finally put him into the top 30 in the championship standings and make him Chase-eligible despite missing the first 11 races of 2015 due to injury.
"Our laps weren't great, we were just okay," said Busch, who will be in the highest-placed non-Chevrolet car on the grid and one of only two cars not from the bow tie brigade in the top 12. "We certainly were just way too loose and just didn't quite have the balance we needed there for qualifying in order to get the speed out of it for some of the corners. We'll take it and go into the race.
A third Hendrick car, Jimmie Johnson's #48, will line-up in ninth place for tomorrow afternoon's race with Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon to his outside. Also making it through to the final round of qualifying were Penske's Brad Keselowski and HScott Motorsports' Justin Allgaier who will start from 11th and 12th places respectively.
"It's not where we want to be," admitted Keselowski who had been hoping to start much further forward. "But what we need to do tomorrow is just run a solid race, and if we've got some good pace we'll get there."
"This is probably by far the best road course car I've ever had," enthused Allgaier, whose best start so far this year was 15th place at Bristol Motor Speedway. "That means a lot to me and this team. Just being able to go out there and lay down a good lap in the first round; we had to do it on the second round, unfortunately, but still were able to run two really good runs in that round."
For a small team like Allgaier's, a successful qualifying can be a huge boost: "After qualifying, and you qualify well, you just seem to have that positive momentum going into the race," the 29-year-old from Illinois agreed.
"This is a race that it a little bit different. It's a road course race, so it throws everybody off a little bit. If we can capitalise on this weekend, I feel like the momentum that will carry, just throughout the rest of the season even, will be huge. So, I'm really excited about where our team is headed."
Just missing out on transferring to the pole shoot-out top 12 were Denny Hamlin (JGR), Kurt Busch (SHR), Carl Edwards (JGR) and perhaps most surprisingly Joey Logano (Penske) who had earlier claimed pole position for Saturday's Xfinity Series support race at the Glen, but who couldn't find the same form when it came to the equivalent Cup qualifying session just an hour later.
"We needed to go faster," said Logano. "We had a good first lap, but everyone picks up so much on their second lap that you've got to go back out and run again. We didn't get a clean lap. I had to go around some cars and our car was just a little too loose, so I couldn't get everything out of it.
"Unfortunately, we didn't make the next round and we're going to be 16th, so we'll have our work cut out. We'll be all right. We can work our way through this thing. We've all seen plenty of stuff happen here at Watkins Glen that we can work through."
Ganassi's Jamie McMurray will start from 17th place alongside Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer who had been fastest in Friday's first practice session but been lacking speed thereafter. Bowyer's team mate David Ragan will start just behind them on row 10 alongside RCR's Ryan Newman.
Among those starting outside the top 20 for the 90-lap, 220.5-mile race which gets underway on Sunday afternoon at 2pm (7pm BST) are SHR's Danica Patrick in 22nd, Hendrick's Kasey Kahne in 23rd, Richard Petty Motorsports' Sam Hornish Jr. in 24th and JGR's Matt Kenseth in 26th.
Paul Menard could only manage 28th in the RCR #27 Chevy, while it was a poor day at the office for Roush Fenway's two youngest drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne who will have to work their way forward from 30th and 34th place respectively. Their senior team mate Greg Biffle will start a few rows ahead of them in 25th position.
Premium Motorsports' TJ Bell was the only driver to fail to make the starting grid, after the #62 blew up and caused a red flag during the first round of qualifying.
See full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying results from Watkins Glen International