It had been 4 1/2 years since Stewart qualified first for a race on NASCAR's premier circuit.
Stewart will make the 400th start of his Sprint Cup career on Sunday and will lead the field to the green flag thanks to a lap of 191.327 around the 1.5-mile oval. His last pole came at Martinsville in October 2005.
Sam Hornish Jr. barely missed what would have been his first Sprint Cup pole, finishing .014 of a second behind Stewart. Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne finished out the first five.
Defending champion Jeff Gordon qualified 12th.
Mark Martin also made news on the Sprint Cup circuit by confirming he will drive for Hendrick Motorsports next year. Earlier this week, Kahne signed a four-year deal with Hendrick to drive Martin's car beginning with the 2012 campaign.
"This is the absolute best scenario," the 50-year-old Martin said Friday. "I am so psyched about it and relieved that we can go on and work on racing and not worry about Hendrick Motorsports and my team and everything else. Kasey Kahne is the really right fit for this organization."
Martin also said he will race in 2012, but which team he will drive for has yet to be determined.
"I don't know what I will be doing in 2012," he said. "I absolutely have no idea and I won't be able to answer that question until possibly late next year."
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