In the run-up to this weekend’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, the man most of the drivers mentioned as a favorite was Marcos Ambrose.

Friday’s qualifying did nothing to alter the prevailing view that the 35-year-old Australian is the man to beat Sunday at Sonoma.

He shot around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile course in 1 minute, 15.203 seconds to win the pole with a speed of 95.262 mph. His crew chief, Todd Parrott, gushed, “I was just in awe of that lap.”