Jamie Whincup scored his first Armor All Pole Award of the season by edging out team-mate Shane van Gisbergen in qualifying for Race 14 in Townsville.
Whincup bumped James Courtney from the top by recording a 1:12.14s lap with nine of the session’s 20 minutes remaining.
Van Gisbergen immediately went second, 0.18s adrift of his team-mate, to lock in a top three order that would remain unchanged through the third and final green tyre runs.
“It’s great to get a pole, the car is fantastic and it was a good lap,” said Whincup, whose previous pole came at Sydney Olympic Park last December.
“The track is slowly deteriorating but soft tyres are always fun for qualifying. It’s going to be a long race.”
Courtney’s third marked a return to form for the HRT on a circuit where its Commodores have always performed strongly.
“It’s like a pole position compared to where we’ve been,” he smiled, having out-performed team-mate Garth Tander by 17 places.
“It’s going to be great to be able to see the lights (at the start).”
The biggest winners in the final minutes were Prodrive pair Chaz Mostert and Mark Winterbottom, who jumped to fourth and fifth respectively.
Mostert had been 11th and Winterbottom sixth prior to the last tyre run.
“We’re still lacking that last couple of tenths on the soft tyre,” shrugged Mostert, who was 0.3s away from pole.
Will Davison, Tim Slade, Michael Caruso, James Moffat and Fabian Coulthard filled sixth through 10th, while Craig Lowndes could manage no better than 11th.
Nick Percat completed the session 17th but will take a two-place grid penalty for baulking Aaren Russell through the Turn 7/8 complex.
Russell ended up 25th, ahead only of rookie Kurt Kostecki, after surviving an early brush with the concrete on the exit of Turn 3.
Scott McLaughlin struggled to just 18th in his Volvo, while the man he will replace at DJR Team Penske next season, Scott Pye, was even further back in 21st.
Result: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Castrol Edge Townsville 400 Race 14 Qualifying
|1||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.1443RS|
|2||Red Bull Racing Australia||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.3242 S||00.1799|
|3||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.4368 S||00.2925|
|4||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.4544 S||00.3101|
|5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.4554 S||00.3111|
|6||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Will Davison||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.4952 S||00.3509|
|7||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.5399 S||00.3956|
|8||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:12.5653 S||00.4210|
|9||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat||Volvo S60||1:12.5722 S||00.4279|
|10||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.5767 S||00.4324|
|11||TeamVortex||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.6550 S||00.5107|
|12||Erebus Motorsport Penrite||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.7032 S||00.5589|
|13||carsales Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:12.7342 S||00.5899|
|14||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.7433 S||00.5990|
|15||Sengled Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:12.7700 S||00.6257|
|16||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.7781 S||00.6338|
|17||LD Motorsport||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.8014 S||00.6571|
|18||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||1:12.8182 S||00.6739|
|19||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Nissan Altima||1:12.8198 S||00.6755|
|20||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.8836 S||00.7393|
|21||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.9819 S||00.8376|
|22||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.9916 S||00.8473|
|23||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||1:13.0055 S||00.8612|
|24||LD Motorsport||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore VF||1:13.1705 S||01.0262|
|25||Plus Fitness Racing||Aaren Russell||Holden Commodore VF||1:13.5333 S||01.3890|
|26||Preston Hire Racing||Kurt Kostecki||Holden Commodore VF||1:13.8822 S||01.737|