Juan Pablo Montoya took the pole Friday for the Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway, turning a fast lap at 128.639 mph on the 0.75-mile oval.
Montoya earned his second No. 1 starting spot of the season and the first of his career on a short track.
"It's exciting. We unloaded (Friday) morning and it was a bit of a headache getting the car to run at the beginning. It was dragging a lot and when we finally got it rolling, we felt like we had a pretty decent race car," Montoya said.
Regan Smith qualified second for tonight's race, the best starting spot of his career, at 128.352 mph.
Clint Bowyer was third, followed by Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, points leader Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Paul Menard.
NATIONWIDE: Brandon-born Denny Hamlin grabbed the lead for the first time 44 laps into the race at Richmond and dominated the rest of the 250-lap race.
He lost the lead briefly when he pitted under a green flag, again when Tampa's Aric Almirola got underneath him after the first restart and then grabbed it back six laps later for good.
The victory is the 11th of Hamlin's career in the Nationwide Series and came one night after he passed Kyle Busch on the last lap to win his charity race at the track.
This time, Hamlin led 199 of the 251 laps.
NEWS AND NOTES: Kasey Kahne said he expects to feel some soreness in his surgically repaired knee during tonight's Sprint Cup race. He had surgery April 18 to repair the meniscus in his right knee. He also had surgery on both knees in November, but said Friday he re-injured the right one earlier this season when he slipped while exercising. … Chris Buescher made his first career Nationwide start Friday in place of Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who remains hospitalized for symptoms believed to be related to an insect bite.