Conway's first lap was 1:13.0469s, a good six seconds slower than the expected final qualifying times and so it was no surprise to see his time drop to 1:09.8720s next time around. He was trading the top spot with Castroneves who was showing little sign of being hampered by his wrist injury; Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon also briefly headed the timesheets as times continued to get squeezed.
Alex Tagliani - who will take a ten place grid penalty for an engine change for tomorrow's race - went top with a time of 1:06.5652s with two minutes left in the session and then bettered his own benchmark by another three tenths to stay ahead of the growing threat of the other drivers as the chequered flag came out.
Once again pipping the field with a late flier was Justin Wilson, going top with a new qualifying record for Mid-Ohio of 1:06.1029s, 0.1012s ahead of Tagliani. Dixon, Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud also all made it through, while a late run for Oriol Servia secured the final place to progress to Round 2, bumping Castroneves out of the session at the last minute.
Round 1 - Group 2
The second group featured Will Power, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais, JR Hildebrand, Ryan Briscoe, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, EJ Viso, Giorgio Pantano and Ed Carpenter.
Once again it was a very sluggish start to proceedings, with Takuma Sato, EJ Viso and Ed Carpenter not making a move until there were under ten minutes remaining. The rest of the cars started filing out a minute later, headed by Giorgio Pantano in the #83 substituting for the injured Charlie Kimball.
Sato laid down a first lap of 1:11.0359s, and while he took off nearly a second next time around it paled next to the efforts of James Hinchcliffe (1:08.8572s) and Will Power. Sato briefly recovered the top spot only to see Giorgio Pantano, Josef Newgarden and Hinchcliffe again surge past him. Then Will Power laid down a marker of 1:06.4933 on only his second flying lap, which was bettered a minute later by Sebastien Bourdais recording an impressive time of 1:05.9031s.
Confident of progressing through to round 2, Bourdais and Power pitted after that effort and left the rest of the drivers to fight it out for the remaining spots, which finally went to Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden. JR Hildebrand and James Hinchcliffe missed the cut, while early leader Sato ended up in ninth.
Round 2 - Top 12
Through to Round 2 were Justin Wilson, Alex Tagliani, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud and Oriol Servia from Group 1; and Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden from Group 2.
Most of the drivers were out within three minutes of the start of the ten minute Round 2 session, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson the first to hit the track. Wilson's first effort was 1:08.5263s over a second and a half faster than the championship leader, while further back the traffic bunching up was causing headaches for many drivers.
Wilson lowered his time to 1:07.0025s with his next run, but that wasn't enough to stop Scott Dixon going fastest with a lap of 1:06.8011s. Dixon saw off pacey challenges from Marco Andretti and Will Power by improving to 1:06.1026s before being briefly unseated by Ryan Briscoe; he was able to slam in a lap of 1:05.8055s with a couple of minutes remaining in the session to go back to the top with the fastest time of the weekend.