Montoya, who is in eighth place early in the season-long points race, was clocked in 184.653 mph around the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway. It was his sixth career pole, his previous one coming last October at Talladega.
Denny Hamlin had the second-best qualifying time and he hopes to use this race to jump start his season. After finishing second in the championship race last year to Jimmie Johnson, Hamlin is 17th in the points chase this year.
Joey Logano, Regan Smith and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five, followed by David Ragan, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin.