Montoya Cruises to Pole in California

Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya will make his 150th start from the pole. (Photo: Getty Images)

Juan Pablo Montoya earned the top spot for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Friday turning a fast lap of 184.653 mph.

Montoya, who will make his 150th start, notched his sixth career Sprint Cup Series pole with his last coming at Talladega last fall.

"I didn't think we were going to qualify that well," Montoya said. "Overall, I was really happy. Actually, I'm really surprised we qualified that well."

The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver will be flanked by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin who recorded a lap of 184.270 mph.

Joey Logano, Regan Smith and last October’s Auto Club Speedway race winner Tony Stewart rounded out the first five qualifiers.

David Ragan, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch secured positions six through eight in the starting line-up. Busch was forced to a back-up car after crashing his primary mount in practice.

Ryan Newman and Mark Martin rounded out the top 10.

Forty-three cars are entered for the fifth race of the season and all will start Sunday.

Other notable drivers in the line-up include five time Auto Club Speedway winner Jimmie Johnson (16th), Carl Edwards (18th), points leader Kurt Busch (23th), Jeff Gordon (29th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (30th).

The qualifying session was delayed as track and NASCAR officials worked to alleviate weepers and water seepage on the track through Turn 1 and 2, a result of the week-long heavy rains.

The Sprint Cup Series will have a pair of practice sessions on Saturday.

Motor Racing Network's coverage of Sunday's Auto Club 400 will begin at 2 p.m. (ET).

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