Kahne turned in a lap of 181.254 mph at the 1.366-mile Darlington track. It was his first pole of the season and the 21st of his Sprint Cup career.
He has raced at Darlington nine times and won the pole in four of those appearances.
"That's one of the best qualifying cars I've had in a long time," Kahne said. "It was a blast to drive."
The previous Darlington qualifying record had been 180.370 mph, set last year by Jamie McMurray.
Ryan Newman qualified second, followed by defending champion Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon. The remainder of the top 10 was made up of Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski.
The race will be held Saturday night.