Dario Franchitti will start from the second row of the grid on his return to the IndyCar Series after qualifying in fourth place for the Nikon Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise.

The Scot, who returns the series full-time next year after a season in NASCAR, was faced with a new challenge in the session after a storm shortly before the start of qualifying left him to tackle the challenging Gold Coast street circuit in the rain.

Despite not driving in the wet in 'hell knows how long', the Target Chip Ganassi racer successfully made it through to the Firestone Fast Six and exceeded his own expectations by posting the fourth quickest time.

"It's been pretty good," he said. "First practice was OK, but then the rain came and I thought it was going to be a bit of a challenge because I haven't driven in an IndyCar in the wet for hell knows how long.

"It seemed to work OK. It was dry for the first half of the lap, so I thought, let's go to slicks here. I went tearing into Turn 7 and it was completely wet and I almost stuck it in the fence. Got through the first two sessions OK and I overdrove the Fast Six. I felt driving in wet knocked my rhythm off a little bit and I didn't do a good job.

"The car was awesome and the Target boys did a hell of a job preparing the car. It's gone a lot better than I expected."

Team-mate Scott Dixon starts directly ahead of Franchitti in second.