The second race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit will have the starting grid set by Verizon IndyCar Series championship point standings, after the weather once again proved an intractable problem for the second day running.
CLICK: Full starting grid for race 2 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit
Qualifying for race 2 of the Detroit doubleheader was supposed to take place from 11.25am ET (4.25pm BST). The rain had continued through the night and the drivers faced atrocious wet conditions for the qualifying session for the second round of the doubleheader at Belle Isle.
Conditions were hardly any better than they had been when the weather forced an early end to race 1 the previous day. However the absence of any storms in the area made all the difference in terms of viability, and race control was able to give the green light to start the session with only a few minutes
Rather than the usual three-round elimination format, drivers were split into two groups to avoid overcrowding on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit, after which everyone had 20 minutes to head out and set their best lap time which would decide the starting grid for the afternoon race, for which at least the forecast was looking somewhat better.
In the meantime the drivers in the first group headed out on track to contend with some awesome rooster tails of water spray as they struggled to overcome poor visibility and avoid aquaplaning off into the wall in the process.
Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya was quick to go fastest but he had just been displaced from the top by Ganassi's rookie driver Sage Karam when the rain picked up in intensity again and promptly caught out James Jakes, whose Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda hit the wall in turn 6 with three minutes of the group's session remaining. leaving the SPM crew with a big rebuild job to repair the extensive damage to the front left of the #7 car in time for the race.
The accident meant that the group session ended early, but it was nonetheless officially in the books meaning that Karam was looking on course for a front row start for the afternoon's race. Whether it was pole or second chair for the green flag depended on whether anyone in Group 2 would be able to beat Karam's benchmark time of 1:36.4520s (87.711mph).
It was soon clear that they wouldn't - the rain was getting worse and track conditions were deteriorating fast. So fast in fact that race control was forced to recall the Group 2 cars almost as soon as they had left pit lane, the session red flagged due to track and weather conditions. No one had managed to set a single fast lap time by the time they took shelter.
Qualifying was put on hold, with race control hoping that a window in the conditions would allow them to get the cars back out on track. Without at least five minutes of guaranteed green flag running time for the drivers, the session could not be officially 'in the books' and the starting grid for the afternoon's race would be set according to the fall-back position of championship points.
No opening in the conditions presented itself, and at 12:30pm the word came down that the session was indeed being abandoned - a huge blow to Karam, who instead of starting on the front row will now start instead from way down the order in 20th place.
The decision hands pole position to current championship points leader Juan Pablo Montoya who will be joined by his Penske team mate Will Power on the front row. A third member of the Penske squad, Helio Castroneves, will start from third place alongside Ganassi's Scott Dixon.
"It's good to start at the front, especially if it starts wet," said Power, who won here last year. "It could be very difficult to see if you're in the back of the pack. I think it will be kind of a mixed up race because I think it will start wet and then dry out, so there will be some mixed up strategies there."
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal is the highest-starting Honda car in fifth place alongside CFH Racing's Josef Newgarden, with Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti lining up in seventh place. Next to him is the final remaining Penske car, that of Simon Pagenaud, who had earlier completed his group qualifying session just behind Karam which would have meant a second row start if qualifying had not subsequently been abandoned.
Sebastien Bourdais (KVSH Racing) and Conor Daly (Schmidt Peterson Motorsport) round out the top ten, followed by Saturday race winner Carlos Munoz in 11th alongside Charlie Kimball on row 6.
Weather forecasts for this afternoon's race - due to get underway at 3.50pm ET (8.50pm BST) - is somewhat more optimistic, with hopes that the next system of weather fronts will miss the Belle Isle area and leave a window for the race to have a largely trouble-free run.
It is however already much colder than it has been so far this weekend with air temperatures set to be as much as 11C (20F) lower which will make for big headaches for the engineers as they try and adjust the handling and set-up of the cars to suit the new conditions. One way or another, it should prove to be another interesting and unpredictable day at the races in Detroit in store.
See the starting grid for race 2 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit