Kenseth, who is seeded fourth in the 12-driver Chase field, posted a lap at 183.243 mph around the 1.5-mile oval for his sixth pole in his 427th Sprint Cup Series start. The 2003 series champion claimed his first pole this season in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which is also a 1.5-mile track.
"I thought it was a great lap," Kenseth said. "[Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] and all the guys on the team did a great job [in Friday's practices]. I liked how our car drove in qualifying trim. We had a pretty good lap there. For me to qualify this good, my car must be pretty fast."
Paul Menard, a non-Chase contender, qualified on the outside pole with a lap at 183.125 mph.
The remaining Chase contenders and their starting positions include: Jimmie Johnson (12th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (19th), Jeff Gordon (23rd), Tony Stewart (26th) and Denny Hamlin (27th). Kevin Harvick, who won last weekend's race at Richmond to earn the second seed, qualified the lowest among the Chase field with a 30th-place finish.
David Reutimann, last year's race winner at Chicagoland, qualified 29th. Reutimann was the last driver in the 47-car field to make his qualifying run, since he recorded the fastest overall speed in practice.
Sunday's 400-mile race at Chicagoland is scheduled to start just after 2:00 p.m. (et).