The winners of the last three Sprint Cup Series road course races will start in the top three for Sunday's race at Watkins Glen, and the best one of the group was Marcos Ambrose.
Ambrose, the defending champion of last year's race at the Glen when he beat Brad Keselowski in a wild last lap on a slick, oiled-down track, got the pole in the final qualifying group on his first lap. He took it from Clint Bowyer, who won last season at Sonoma for his first road course win.
Ambrose comes into this year's race at the Glen in a similar situation to the one he was in last year. With a win, he's likely in the top 20 in points and becomes a contender for a Wild Card for the Chase. Last year's win put him in that conversation, but he didn't ultimately make the Chase.
Third is Bowyer's teammate Martin Truex Jr., who won this year at Sonoma. Truex was also fastest in the final Cup Series practice on Friday. Fourth is AJ Allmendinger, who is driving this week for JTG-Daugherty Racing. Kyle Busch, in another Toyota, rounded out the top five.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson starts 18th, and Jeff Gordon will start 28th, followed by Max Papis, the driver subbing for Tony Stewart. 43 cars attempted to qualify Saturday, so none will miss the race.