Alex Tagliani claimed his second consecutive pole position of the season at Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday night's Firestone Twin 275s, demonstrating that his Indy 500 success was no fluke and even the loss of his race engineer Allen McDonald
to Andretti Autosport in the meantime has had no adverse effect.
In the two-lap qualifying format, Tagliani posted times of 24.3530s and 24.3304s for an overall time of 48.6834s, the equivalent of 215.186mph on the 1.5 mile oval.
His closest rival was Dario Franchitti, whose two laps of 24.3941s and 24.3767 put him just 0.0874s behind Tagliani with an overall average speed of 214.801mph.
Tagliani had surprised many by taking the Indy 500 pole, but he said this proved just how much hard work had gone into it. "From the end of the winter up to this race, I think I've seen a lot more time spent on making the car go fast," he said. "Now, I think we are going to get a good momentum and I hope it's going to get better and better."
Tagliani and Franchitti form the front row for the first race at Texas on Saturday evening, with Will Power and Takuma Sato making up the second row - fourth being Sato's best-ever start on an oval in IndyCar.
"The car was balanced and really felt good," said Sato. "Now we really need to concentrate on getting a good car for the race, which is a very different car from qualifying."
Power - who claimed every pole position in the IndyCar season before Indianapolis - was confident that he had the car to win on the night. "We have some work to do tonight in practice to find a good race trim, but we should be good," he insisted. "We get two shots at it tomorrow and I'm definitely ready to race."
With Ed Carpenter running a strong fifth place for Sarah Fisher Racing, it means that the top five positions are held by five different teams, showing how close the racing is likely to be. "I'm happy with our qualifying effort, but I always want to be faster," said Carpenter. "Either way, we have a good starting spot for tomorrow night, and I think we have something for them."
Just a fraction over one second spanned all 29 cars to make qualifying runs on Friday afternoon: James Jakes was not able to go out on track to set a time during qualifying, but should start from the back of the grid in his IndyCar Series oval début after failing to make the field for the Indy 500.