Ryan Briscoe made the most of a set of alternate tyres to secure pole for the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The Penske driver went into the final stage of qualifying having managed to keep a set of stickered tyres and used them when it mattered to set a record-breaking lap of 1min 06.6814secs and take pole ahead of Justin Wilson – winner earlier in the season at Watkins Glen.
"Mid-Ohio has treated Team Penske well,” he said. “It's a lot of fun around this track. It's been tricky conditions so far with the rain and some patches in the corner. It changes the balance of the car from corner to corner. The red Firestones in final qualifying were awesome. A lot of grip, and as usual, a lot of fun to drive. The team has a lot of history here. We love the track. All the credit to the engineers and mechanics at Team Penske. They give us a fantastic car to drive and make my job a whole lot easier."
Wilson was also pleased to secure a place on the front row, although the Dale Coyne Racing ace admitted there was frustration to just miss out on pole.
"It went well,” he said. “The car was working well and everyone on the team has done a great job. I was hoping we could get the Z-line Design Furniture car on the front row, if not the pole, and we missed it by a fraction. That's frustrating, to know that your that close and it didn't quite happen. This is hopefully a repeat of Watkins Glen."
Practice pace-setter Scott Dixon was third quickest for Ganassi and will share the second row with Graham Rahal, with Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti completing the top six.
Ryan Hunter-Reay enjoyed his best qualifying performance of the season to take seventh, which was also the best showing for the AJ Foyt team since the 2007 campaign, although he was disappointed not to make the fast six.
"We worked together well as a team this weekend , we made the ABC Supply car better from yesterday to today,” he said. “We made the right changes on it. I did the driving and A.J. did the right changes and together we got it up to seventh. I wish we could have made the fast six because it was close but that's how it goes. We're glad to get the team its best start this year and now we can work on getting its best finish."
Tony Kanaan, EJ Viso and Paul Tracy completed the top ten, with the latter chasing a strong result for the absent Mario Moraes in Sunday's race.