Dario Franchitti put in the two perfect qualifying laps to claim pole position for Sunday afternoon's MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
It might have looked easy, but Dario insisted that "I was hanging on, man. I wouldn't want to do it again, let me put it that way!" He admitted that "On that first lap you go into turn 1 wide open wondering if it's going to stick or not. If it doesn't stick it's going to get ugly quickly!"
The pole was made even sweeter for him by his arch rival Will Power ending up 13th on the grid after being the first man out to set a fast lap when the track's surface was still compromised by inferior rubber from the American-Canadian Tour stock car support race. His time would eventually leave him in 13th place on the grid, which was better than he had feared at first.
"We were at a bit of a disadvantage going out first for qualifying because the track was dusty and there was still some rubber from the other series on the surface," Power explained. "But the car was pretty good - we had a little push in it but we made some major changes since practice on Thursday and it is much better. We'll be ready to go when we line up for the race tomorrow."
It had looked likely that times would continue to tumble with each run, but after the first ten qualifiers the track seemed to return to its normal state and times plateaued once Oriol Servia and Tony Kanaan took provisional pole and second place.
That meant that most of the cars after this ran according to their expected form with James Hinchcliffe narrowly unable to beat the top two and having to settle for third place with Ryan Hunter-Reay slipping in one place behind him just ahead of Ryan Briscoe. Only Franchitti - the 20th car to qualify - was finally able to break the Servia/Kanaan grip at the top.
By contrast, Graham Rahal - who had been expected to be a strong challenger for pole positions after looking fast all through practice - had a major moment during his run and was lucky to save the car, but the mistake badly compromised his time and he ended up near the back in 23rd place.
"We never expected our car to snap like that in qualifying," he said. "I never imagined that would happen. It tried to bite me, but we're just lucky we brought it back in one piece. That type of snap is normally one that you don't catch, so we're pretty fortunate."
A less dramatic case of understeer nearly left EJ Viso scraping the wall through turn 4 but he salvaged 17th place despite the scare. "It was just very difficult to drive in qualifying," he said. "I had huge understeer that prevented me from going faster."