CLICK: Full qualifying results from Iowa Speedway
Scott Dixon will start Saturday night's Iowa Corn Indy 300 race from pole position after he set a new track record time to edge his Ganassi team mate Tony Kanaan to the top spot by just 0.0679s at the 7/8ths of a mile Iowa Speedway.
Dixon's qualifying effort of 186.256mph broke the existing two-lap average qualifying record set last year by Penske's Helio Castroneves, who was third fastest in the individual speed trials at Iowa this year. Castroneves was able to reclaimed the record for the single fastest lap in qualifying during his own run after he reached 17.2283s on his second lap, beating Dixon's best of 17.2662s.
As well as sweeping the front row, Ganassi also saw Ryan Briscoe claim fourth place on the grid alongside Castroneves on the second row, and Charlie Kimball also impressed with the seventh fastest time of the session to put him on the fourth row alongside Marco Andretti.
"It's great to see all the Ganassi cars in the top seven and a great team effort," enthused Dixon. "I'm excited for the race – Iowa is a fun track and we've had some great cars in the past and some great finishes, so hopefully we can put on a fantastic show for the fans here tomorrow. That's number 1 on the priority list and obviously to try and win it for us."
Friday's qualifying performance was a rare success for Ganassi so far this season, with the team having a bumpy time of it since moving to Chevrolet engines over the winter.
"We're still winless, but I don't want to be a downer cause we're starting on the pole and starting on the right end of the field," insisted Dixon. "We had a bit of a tough test here a few weeks ago but coming back the car setup has been a dream to drive.
"With new people on the team, new engineers and new teammates we've changed some of the short track setups and it's been eye-opening and fun to drive," he added. "We've rolled off the truck and been really quick."
The result has been Dixon's first pole of 2014, and the second front row start for Kanaan who is keen to get his first win for Ganassi since moving to the team to replace the now-retired Dario Franchitti in the four-car line-up.
"Scott and I both have good cars here, his car was just a little bit better than mine but we'll both be strong for the race," said Kanaan. "The grid is so tight here and the competition is the closest I've seen in a very long time. Maybe ever. The whole team is fast. We looked fast in Pocono as well and hopefully this week we can finish the race off and get that win."
Penske team mates Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya had earlier topped the rain-disrupted Friday practice sessions, but they were unable to quite repeat that sort of form in qualifying. While Castroneves claimed third, Montoya slumped to a disappointing 19th place on the grid.
"We made some changes to the #2 Verizon Chevy from practice because we thought we could be just a little better. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way," he conceded later. "I wasn't sure the car was going to come back when it stepped out on me. We have a lot of laps to make something happen so I'm not worried."
"I had a big moment, which ruined that [first] lap, and was worried if the car was going to stick," commented the third Penske driver, championship leader Will Power, of his own qualifying run which saw him take ninth place on the grid. "I made some adjustments on the second lap and it was not as bad. Top ten [is] really good."
Also making it into the top ten for this weekend's race were Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz in fifth and KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais in sixth place, while tenth went to owner-driver Ed Carpenter
"It's not a bad run for here, but the car did get a little loose on the second lap or we would have had better starting spot," said Carpenter. "You always want a better speed when you aren't on the pole, but it has been a tricky day with the weather conditions. Waiting out the rain and the drying of the track is always tough.
"I think we have a good car for the race," he continued. "We'll have to see how the conditions go after the rubber from the truck race and possible rain. We were fast last year here and I feel like our race setup will be good ... The track could really change throughout the race and you have to be able to adjust to that element."
This year's race, which is scheduled to get underway at 7.50pm local time (1.50am BST) weather permitting, is 50 laps longer than last year in order to make it more challenging for teams planning pit stop strategies.
"The 50 extra laps could prove to be a factor towards the finish," agreed Carpenter.
Friday also saw a return to action for Bryan Herta Autosport driver Jack Hawksworth, who was forced to miss out on last week's double points event at Pocono Raceway after suffering a myocardial contusion in a practice accident. Hawksworth qualified in 20th position for this weekend's event after being cleared to drive by IndyCar's medical director during the week.
See full qualifying results from Iowa Speedway