Indy Pro Series/Indy Lights veteran Wade Cunningham put all his experience to good use in qualifying for the season's blue riband event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, claiming his second Freedom 100 pole.
The Kiwi recorded a two-lap qualifying time of 1min 34.6485seconds, an average of 190.177mph, in the #11 Lucas Oil-backed Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, bettering Jaime Camara's 2005 qualifying effort of 189.870mph in the process.
"We were sitting here in line, 19th to go out, and Sebastian [Saavedra] pops that 47.25 up on the board,2 cunningham recounted, "That's a good time running by yourself, and we were only running marginally quicker than that at nine o'clock this morning with the cool ambient temperatures and a cold track, so I dug deep, and the car was great.
"The changes that were made from second practice to qualifying obviously worked. We didn't do the quickest lap time, but we were more consistent on the second lap."
The 2005 series champion, who had previously started from the pole the year after his title triumph, will be making his fifth Freedom 100 start - the most of any driver in the field - and has finished first (2006), second (2005), third (2008) and 23rd (2007) in his four previous attempts. Previous Schmidt polewinners Thiago Medeiros and Camara both went on to win the race.
"It's a long race, 40 laps, and anything can happen," Cunningham continued, "In 2006, it went green for 40 laps, and that is a completely different race than what is was last year, where we had the ten-lap shoot-out at the end.
"You just have to work hard and have the best car you can and take the conditions as they come. You never have a perfect car and, when you do, you win. So it's not often that happens, and you have to battle through the day. We'll just see how tomorrow comes."
Impressive rookie Saavedra qualified second, recording his third front-row start of the season after taking pole on the street course in St Petersburg and second on the short oval at Kansas.
"It feels wonderful - the whole AFS/AGR Racing team has done an awesome job putting the car together," the Colombian enthused, "We have a very strong car for this weekend, and we'll try to do our best.