Tom Hessert, in the Jennifer Belmont-owned Buddy's Home Furnishings Ford, earned his career-first Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell Thursday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
"It's awesome," said Hessert. "It's definitely the biggest thing I've done for my career as far as exposure. It's huge. Anytime you go to a place like Talladega, it's special when you can run up front.
"It was absolutely a perfect lap. We made some adjustments between practice and qualifying, and the thing really came to life. I knew it was going to be a good lap, but I didn't know it was going to be that good."
Hessert, who circled the 2.66-mile superspeedway in 51.321 seconds for an average speed 186.590 mph, will lead the field to green in Friday's ARCA RE/MAX 250 LIVE on SPEED at 5:00 PM ET.
"It makes it a lot easier (starting up front). Hopefully we can get the jump on the start and be leading from the get-go."
It was also the career first superspeedway pole award for Hessert's team Andy Belmont Racing.
"It's my first pole in a long time," said Andy Belmont. "I'm just blown away by the whole thing. Being at Talladega, the enormity of it. I can't see because the tears keep coming.
"I'm blown away for this kid. I'm telling you, this kid is the next Carl Edwards or whoever. We're fortunate we got him, and we're not going to be able to keep him long, I can promise you that. This kid has got it."
Hessert, in the lone Ford among five Toyotas in the top six positions, nipped Eddie Sharp Racing's Craig Goess by 14 one-hundredths of a second to earn the top spot.
Goess, in the Greenville Toyota Toyota, will start second in Friday's race with a speed of 186.539 mph.
Kelly Bires, in the Wolfpack Rentals Toyota, qualified third at 186.463 mph.
Justin Lofton, also in an Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota, qualified fourth in the Lofton Cattle Toyota with a speed of 186.372 mph.
Veteran Mark Thompson, in the Phoenix Air-Venturini Motorsports Toyota, qualified fifth at 186.333.
Just eight one-hundredths of second separated the top five fastest qualifiers.
The 47th ARCA RE/MAX 250 is scheduled to roll off just after 4:00 PM local time Friday afternoon, April 24. The race is LIVE on SPEED at 5:00 PM Eastern. Live coverage also includes live timing & scoring at ARCAracing.com and live streaming audio over the ARCA Racing Network, also at ARCAracing.com.