Franck Perera again underlined his road course pedigree by claiming pole position for the first of two Firestone Indy Lights races at Infineon Raceway in California.
The Frenchman, who lost his ride in the senior IndyCar Series after just a handful of races, took the SWE Pole Award for the Carneros 100 to add to that which he claimed for race one at Watkins Glen, and second spot on the grid at Mid-Ohio.
"It was a nice lap," the Guthrie Racing driver admitted, "I think, this year, I've been pretty good at the end of the session. It's nice to be back at a road course after having some trouble at Kentucky, but it's a new track for me, so I'm learning every time I go out there.
"I've been working well with the team, but I'm surprised because, even though we were fighting for the pole the whole session, we had a fuel pump problem on the last two laps. I couldn't believe that I would make it, but I pushed anyway. When they said I got pole, I couldn't believe it. I guess it's good, but now I'm disappointed because we could have been so much quicker."
Raphael Matos, who trails points leader Richard Antinucci by four points in the overall standings, qualified second to maintain his own strong road course form with a seventh front row spot of the season.
"We expected to be on the pole, but it was a tough session," the Brazilian, who duelled with Perera throughout the second half of last season's Atlantic Championship, said, "It was difficult to time traffic, so I got some on both of my new tyre runs. It was quite difficult, but at least the guy I'm battling in the championship is right behind me, so that's a good thing. I think we have a consistent car for tomorrow, so we need to make sure we make the right adjustments."
Antinucci claimed the third starting position, crediting a switch within the Sam Schmidt Racing team that now sees him working with veteran race engineer Ray Leto.
"Qualifying for us was okay, but the gearbox let us down in the last two laps," the American noted, "I think the shift cable broke, so maybe I pushed too hard on the cable, but we're pushing because it's qualifying."
Logan Gomez qualified a season-best fourth, bettering a previous best qualifying effort of eighth at Kentucky. Gomez started first at Watkins Glen based on his finishing position in the first race there, but has yet to show that sort of form in qualifying.
Ana Beatriz qualified fifth for her eighth top-five start of the season, while Daniel Herrington qualified a season-best seventh, one up on his previous best from Mid-Ohio.