Ryan Briscoe dominated qualifying for the Watkins Glen IndyCar race, taking pole with an 0.8s margin over underdog front row hero Justin Wilson.
Scott Dixon took third, with Mario Moraes an impressive fourth, while Briscoe's Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves could not better 14th.
The crucial Fast Six pole shoot-out became a one-lap dash after championship leader Dario Franchitti caused a stoppage by slamming backwards into the barriers at the final corner. The Ganassi driver was unhurt, but had to settle for sixth on the grid.
Briscoe - who had been quickest in practice and beat the field by 0.6s in round two qualifying - was already on provisional pole by a commanding margin at this point and could not be caught, duly clinching his second pole of 2009.
Wilson breezed through to the Fast Six without using a single set of the soft 'red' Firestones, and then came closest to deposing Briscoe in another great road course effort for Dale Coyne's small team.
Three-time Watkins Glen winner Dixon and KV Racing's Moraes both made big gains on their last Fast Six laps to take the row two spots, pushing Newman/Haas/Lanigan's Graham Rahal back to fifth.
Mike Conway was one of the stars of the day. Despite crashing just six laps into practice this morning, the British rookie came within 0.099s of making the Fast Six session as he took a career-best seventh on the grid for Dreyer & Reinbold.
Eighth-placed Danica Patrick was the fastest of the Andretti Green quartet on another low-key day for the squad. Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan line up just behind her, with Hideki Mutoh back in 13th after Patrick's final round one lap knocked him out of the round two slots.
The shock of the session was the early elimination of title contender Helio Castroneves. The Penske driver, a former polesitter at the track, made some small errors on what should have been his best round one run and then ran out of time to try again, so missed the cut and ended up 14th.
Also out early were big name returnee Paul Tracy (KV) and last year's winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (Foyt), who will share row two. As the only man not to have raced or tested at the Glen before, Tracy cited a lack of track time, while Hunter-Reay rued a poor set-up.
Debutant Richard Antinucci could not repeat his impressive practice form, but was satisfied with his time as he secured 20th on the grid for his first IndyCar start with 3G.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m28.5970s
2. Justin Wilson Coyne 1m29.3106s
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m29.7279s
4. Mario Moraes KV 1m29.8003s
5. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m29.9526s
6. Dario Franchitti Ganassi
7. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m29.1715s
8. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1m29.2076s
9. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1m29.3539s
10. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1m29.4131s
11. EJ Viso HVM 1m29.5661s
12. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m29.9137s
13. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1m29.7943s
14. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m29.8662s
15. Paul Tracy KV 1m30.6167s
16. Ryan Hunter-Reay Foyt 1m30.4001s
17. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m30.6266s
18. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 1m30.4981s
19. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 1m33.6824s
20. Richard Antinucci 3G 1m31.1910s
21. Ed Carpenter Vision 1m31.6852s