Matt Kenseth won the pole for the AAA Texas 500 by the slimmest of margins over Jeff Gordon, while Tony Stewart set a new track qualifying record with a lap at 200 mph during Friday's qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway.
Kenseth, who is one of the eight drivers remaining in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, turned a lap at 199.299 mph during the third and final round of knockout qualifying. He beat Gordon for the pole by only one-thousandth of a second. Gordon posted his lap at 199.291 mph.
It was Kenseth's second pole of the season and the 13th of his Sprint Cup Series career. He also claimed his first pole win in 25 starts at this 1.5- mile racetrack.
Kenseth, who is currently fourth in the Chase point standings, has yet to win a race in the series this season. He has two victories at Texas (spring events in 2002 and '11).
Sunday's 500-mile race is the second event in the Eliminator Round. After next weekend's race at Phoenix, the four-driver field for the Nov. 16 season-ending and championship event will be determined.
Gordon finished second last Sunday at Martinsville and took over the points lead. He holds a three-point advantage over Ryan Newman, who will start seventh at Texas.
Jimmie Johnson, who won last year's Chase race here, qualified third, followed by Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Stewart. Harvick is a title contender but is eighth in points following his 33rd-place finish at Martinsville.
During the second round of qualifying, Stewart made a lap at 200.111 mph, which broke the previous track record of 198.282 mph, set by Harvick in April.
It was the first 200 mph qualifying lap at a 1.5-mile track in series history.
Finishing eighth through 12th in the last qualifying round were: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won at Martinsville.
Logano and Edwards are in the Chase. Logano won this year's spring race at Texas.
The other championship-eligible drivers and their starting positions are Denny Hamlin (20th) and Brad Keselowski (26th).
Keselowski had his worst qualifying finish at a track other than a restrictor- plate track this season. He is seventh in points after his 31st-place run at Martinsville.
All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field.