Kyle Busch won the pole for tonight's NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway with a fast lap Friday of 127.077 mph.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver turned the lap as the 19th of 47 cars attempting to qualify, easily beating Zephyrhills' David Reutimann (126.618) for the top spot.
The pole, just the sixth Busch has earned in 196 starts in NASCAR's premier series, gave him his choice of pit stalls as he defends his victory in this race a year ago.
"It's nice to sit on the pole every once in a while," Busch said of his first pole position since March 2009 in Las Vegas. "I only get the opportunity maybe once a year."
Seeking his first Sprint Cup Series victory since August at Bristol, Busch said he feels he's getting closer all the time to ending a 21-race winless streak.
"We've had some opportunities where we should have won races," he said. "We've also had opportunities where we should have run 15th or 18th and we finished top 10."
Reutimann's solid run came after a shaky start to the day.
"It is two opposite ends of the spectrum from where we were when we unloaded to where we are now," he said. "We weren't very good at the beginning of the practice. We were way off, to be honest with you. ... We made some big adjustments that got us a lot better."
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who said the air has been cleared in their well-publicized feud of the past two weeks, will start in the second row, followed by Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.
Johnson, who took the blame for making a mistake that wrecked Gordon and caused the war of words at Talladega, said his team also struggled.
"Really, really pleased," he said. "It seems like a lot of guys are really struggling to get grip, but we couldn't produce a lap time as fast as some of our teammates were. ... At the end of practice, we found a few things that gave us a little bit of hope."
CREW CHIEFS SIGN: Hendrick Motorsports locked crew chiefs Chad Knaus and Alan Gustafson into long-term contract extensions. Knaus has led Jimmie Johnson to the past four NASCAR championships and is expected to keep that role, but Gustafson, currently Mark Martin's crew chief, might have a different role.
Steve Letarte said he's in discussion with team owner Rick Hendrick to extend his contract, too. Letarte, in the final year of his current deal, said he wants to return as Jeff Gordon's crew chief.