Penske's Helio Castroneves will lead the field to the green flag for tomorrow's ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, the penultimate race of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
CLICK: Full qualifying results for Sunday's ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway
In earning his fourth pole of the year, Castroneves leads a Penske sweep of the top three positions on the grid, with his two-lap time of 1:21.6217s (220.530mph) putting him just 0.0165s ahead of his team mate Simon Pagenaud, while Will Power was just a further three hundredths of a second away from the pole time.
"I was able to collect some information from [Will and Simon] and at the end of the day we're strong, we're solid and I can't wait for the race," said Castroneves, emphasising the boost of having such strong team mates and of being one of the last drivers to make their timed runs.
However there is not such good news for the fourth member of the Penske line up, championship points leader Juan Pablo Montoya, who could only manage to qualify in 19th place for Sunday's race, the final oval outing of the season. What makes that even more surprising is that Montoya is the track qualifying record holder at the 2.5-mile tri-oval, based on his two-lap effort of 223.871mph with which he won pole here in 2014.
While the Colombian couldn't find anything like that sort of pace here again this year, his record suggests that no one should be counting him out just yet. Montoya has an impressive record at the 2.5-mile superspeedways, having won four of the ten IndyCar 500-miles that he's entered last year's race at Pocono Raceway and the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year in which he started from 15th.
"You can't really know what's going to happen. We've done a really good job all year, like everybody else, had ups and downs, and we'll see what it brings," said Montoya
Montoya comes into this weekend's race with just nine points in hand over his nearest rival in the title battle, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal, although there are still ten drivers in total still mathematically in the running for the title thanks to the season finale at Sonoma next week offering double points.
Rahal himself was able to qualify up in fifth place, putting him just behind CFH Racing's Josef Newgarden. While the top four cars on the grid for this weekend's race are all Chevrolet-powered, qualifying actually proved to be much more of an even balance between the engine manufacturers than that bald statistic suggests, as Honda succeeded in taking five of the top ten starting positions.
As well as Rahal, there are three Andretti Autosport cars in the top ten with Carlos Munoz in sixth ahead of Justin Wilson and Ryan Hunter-Reay, while AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato will start from nine place ahead of the Chevy-powered KVSH Racing entry of Sebastien Bourdais in tenth.
The Ganassi line-up missed out entirely on the top ten, with Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan due to take tomorrow's green flag in tenth and 11th places respectively.
However the final member of the full-time Ganassi line up, Charlie Kimball, will have to start from the back - and that's providing that the team are able to build him up a replacement car overnight. His primary race car was wrecked in a heavy accident in turn 3 while he was on the first of his two timed qualifying laps.
"Went into 1 and the car caught me out a little bit with the handling, so I made some adjustments and I don't know if it was the wind or what caught me going into 3," explained Kimball, who had been fastest in the sole practice session earlier in the day.
"Maybe I was a little aggressive, but it's qualifying. You have to go for it," he added. "I'm really disappointed for the whole Novo Nordisk team. I know a lot of guys from Novo Nordisk are coming up and the car was really fast this morning. That's the good thing about having a crew like Chip Ganassi Racing behind you. I know that the car they pull out of the trailer will be just as good."
The force of the impact was enough to send the #83 climbing up the outside wall where it proceeded to ride along the upper edge for a distance, during which time the car did serious damage to the catchfence. Once the car had come back to a rest on the track, Kimball himself was able to climb out and give a thumbs-up to the fans. He was quickly checked and released by the in-field care centre, although a cut to his chin required a small number of stitches.
The catchfence was not so quickly put to rights, and qualifying was suspended for 48 minutes while track workers carried out repairs before the session could resume.
Kimball will start Sunday's race from 23rd place, with KV Racing Technology's Stefano Coletti lining up just behind him after the Monegasque driver was unable to participate in qualifying, as the team was still busy repairing the #4 after he made contact with the turn 3 SAFER barrier in morning practice.
"Obviously, I am disappointed not to be able to qualify," sighed Coletti. "We had a great car this morning in practice. It was well balanced and we were trimming it even more for qualifying. Then on my last run, my last outing, I crashed and we couldn't get it repaired in time for the qualifying session. We will start from the back of the field tomorrow, but it is a 500-mile race so anything can happen."
The drivers will have one last half hour practice available to them later today in the early evening, with the 200-lap, 500-mile race scheduled to get underway on Sunday afternoon at 2.46pm local time (7.46pm BST).
See full qualifying results for Sunday's ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway
See full Saturday practice 1 times from Pocono