Mears was fastest during the first practice session held early Friday, earning him the pole position. In previous years, the current points leader was given the first spot on the grid when qualifying could not be held.
"The way it's structured right now, we all try to run as fast as we can the first practice," said Mears, who was timed in 122.209 mph. "You never want to get a pole like this, but we'll definitely take it."
Mears will start out front in a Sprint Cup race for the first time in five years.
Brad Keselowski, winner of the last two races held at Bristol, will also start on the first row. Greg Biffle was given the third starting spot, followed by Joey Logano and Aric Almirola.
Modifications to the high-bank half-mile oval since the Sprint Cup Series last ran here in March were not well received by the drivers.
"I think it's terrible," Busch said. "That's about it."
The race is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday.