Jimmie Johnson claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the 2012 season with a record-setting lap at Kentucky Speedway.
The five-time champion set the benchmark of a delayed qualifying session with a lap of 29.700 seconds, at an average speed of 181.818 mph.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch, winner of the inaugural Cup race at the venue a year ago, got closest to Johnson's time, ending up second fastest ahead of his team-mate Denny Hamlin, the most consistent driver on long runs during Friday's practice sessions.
"Very comfortable lap, very good lap," said Johnson after winning his first pole since September 2010. "Qualifying has not been our strong suit over the last two years, so very happy to get this pole today.
"I've had a lot of seconds and there's nothing more frustrating than a close second in qualifying but it all went really well and I think we've got a great race car in race trim as well."
Kevin Harvick was fourth for Richard Childress Racing while Stewart-Haas' Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.
Brad Keselowski was the best Dodge in eighth, following a clash with Earnhardt Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya at the start of the first practice, which ended up with the Penske driver hitting the wall and being forced to a back up car.
Keselowski clashed with the Colombian again during second practice, hitting the back of the #42 Chevrolet several times before officials waved the caution flags, interrupting the session.
Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle will line up 11th for Saturday night's event as the best Ford, followed by Australian Marcos Ambrose (Petty Ford), who suffered a spin early in the opening practice.
The session was halted almost halfway through due to severe winds while Montoya was making his qualifying run. The winds caused some damage in the garage area, blowing tents and debris while the grandstands were evacuated as a precaution.
Saturday's race is expected to be the hottest of the season thus far, track temperatures going well beyond 50 degrees celsius during practice before the sudden drop during the qualifying session.
Scott Speed was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 24th while Mike Skinner and JJ Yeley failed to make the field.