"So unfortunately I went over the limit of the car and end up hitting turn 9 and I thought it was over," he explained. "The guys came fully focused to fix the car and rear suspension and in seven minutes they switched the entire suspension and we were able to go back there."
Sandwiched between the Penske presence are two of the three Andretti Autosport drivers, also all-Chevy-powered. A third Aussie, Ryan Hunter-Reay, will take up third place for the start of the race on Sunday afternoon, with James Hinchcliffe an impressive fourth in his first visit to St Pete after missing out in 2011 due to the lateness of his sponsorship deal coming together.
With Pagenaud dropping out because of his penalty, the spot on the third row alongside Castroneves will be taken over by the 'best of the rest', Scott Dixon, who missed out on progressing to the final round by a painfully slender 0.0022s.
Two more Chevrolet-powered cars take over the fourth row in the form of Marco Andretti and KV Racing's Tony Kanaan, leaving the fifth row to Ganassi duo Dario Franchitti and Graham Rahal.
The answer to the question of "which is the better engine to have" couldn't be clearer: Chevrolet claim seven of the top ten positions with the best Honda mired down in sixth place. As statements go, they don't get much more emphatic than that, and it will be leaving the Ganassi camp in particular in a state of shellshock if not downright panic as the mull over the consequences of what they saw.
"Our setup wasn't where it needed to be obviously," said Franchitti. "I don't think its by accident the Chevy guys were up there. We'll just keep our heads up and get the work done. We still have some tricks up our sleeve."
The highest-placed Lotus car was Bryan Herta Autosports' Alex Tagliani in 17th position. Sebastien Bourdais was faring well in his round 1 group, but then spun in the final minutes causing the track to be red flagged, and under the series rules that means his two fastest laps of the session were deleted as a penalty which caused him to classified in last position, meaning that he will start Sunday's race from the back row alongside his Lotus Dragon Racing team mate Katherine Legge, who had a similar spin at the same part of the track in her group but managed to get underway again without causing a red flag.
Bourdais accident meant that Rubens Barrichello lost the opportunity to complete his final flying lap, leaving him in 13th position on the grid for his first IndyCar start.
"I am pleased though; I improved this morning and today was the first time I have ever used the red (soft option) tyres," said Barrichello. "I can never be pleased with 13th or 14th, but we have to set targets and my targets are high."