Kenseth won the Daytona 500 for the second time to open the current Sprint Cup season, but this was his first pole in 26 starts at the track.
"Our lap was obviously a good one," Kenseth said. "But I had very little to do with it. Qualifying at this speedway is all about the car and the engine."
Kenseth will attempt to become the first driver in 30 years to win both Daytona races in the same season. Bobby Allison had a season sweep here in 1982.
Tony Stewart had the second-fastest qualifying time, but his lap was disallowed by NASCAR officials after a non-conforming cooling hose was found on his car. That violation could bring penalties against Stewart and his team next week.
The rest of the Top 10 will be made up of Bill Elliott, Casey Mears, A.J. Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose. Elliott will be driving for Turner Motorsports, which will be making its Sprint Cup debut when the race is run Saturday.