The new Gen-6 car being used in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series this year made its short-track debut and Busch turned a lap on the 0.533-mile oval at 129.535 miles per hour.
That broke the qualifying record of 128.709 mph set by Ryan Newman in 2003. It was the 11th career pole for Busch.
"We thought we would have a shot for the pole," Busch said, "but we thought that many times here before and ended up 30th or something." Busch has won five Sprint Cup races on the Bristol track
Kasey Kahne qualified second with a lap at 128.995 mph.
Denny Hamlin was third, turning in an excellent qualifying effort after complaining about the performance of the new car last week. He was fined $25,000 for those comments and he originally said he would not pay it, but he relented this week and NASCAR said the fine would be taken out of his future earnings.