Last year's pole position time of 1:08.0776 was completely shredded in 2012, and not least by the final two laps posted by Penske's Will Power who finally claimed pole with a lap of 1:05.6474s almost a quarter of a second out of reach of second place man Dario Franchitti.
Power made his fourth pole position of the season look easy, but he insisted that it had been anything but.
"I am so tired after this session I am shaking, this place is so physical," he told radio reporters immediately after stepping from the cockpit. "This session today is the hardest I have tried all year. I just kept pushing and pushing. I had to. It is the most that I have put into a lap. We needed that pole."
Power will be further buoyed by the fact that the two drivers ahead of him in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship - Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves - will both start outside the top three rows. Hunter-Reay will line up in seventh place on the grid, while Castroneves has to be satisfied with 12th after nursing his sprained wrist through the tough session.
Scott Dixon looked like being Power's main threat, but didn't feature strongly in the Firestone Fast Six and instead he'll have to see what he can do with a fourth place start.
Qualifying for the Honda Indy 200 took place in dry conditions on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road circuit at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, although rain looked to be looming on the horizon ahead of the American Le Mans Series support race in the afternoon.
The session followed the standard road and street course format, which saw half the field running in the first 15-minute Group 1 and the other half in Group 2. After a five minute pause, the top six from each group progressed to the ten-minute Top 12 session, with the top six from that round then going through to the pole shootout Firestone Fast Six round.
Full qualifying times from all three rounds
Round 1 - Group 1
The first part of qualifying featured Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, James Jakes, Alex Tagliani, Mike Conway, Oriol Servia, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson, Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro.
As is usually the case, it was a slow start for qualifying with no one - not even HVM Racing's Simona de Silvestro - opting to come out on the track in the first six minutes. Brits Mike Conway and James Jakes finally blinked first, with Ryan Hunter-Reay next followed by Helio Castroneves, able to take part in the session as normal despite his wrist injury sustained in the morning practice session. After that, the rest of the cars came out in a flood.