Will Power gave Penske its seventh straight IndyCar Series pole position of 2010 as he took the top spot in qualifying at Iowa Speedway.
The Australian's four-lap average of 181.337mph came almost as a surprise to the 29-year-old who was fourth out on track and expected to be usurped by one of his Penske teammates or Ganassi rivals as the short oval rubbered-in through qualifying.
But while Scott Dixon got within two thousandths, with an average qualifying speed of 181.332mph, late on, it wasn't enough to stop Power taking his fourth pole of the season. The bonus point he gained moves him to within two points of championship leader Dario Franchitti.
"It's the best place to start the race from tomorrow," said Power. "Now I just want to have a good result on an oval. We have been really quick the last two races, we've been in a position to win in fact. It's just that everything has got to fall together.
"I'm just edging away at it and hopefully tomorrow I can do the business."
Dixon for his part wasn't too bothered to have missed out on pole, adding that he and his teammate Franchitti had both focused on race setup ahead of tomorrow's 250-mile race.
"It was pretty tight, but we're more worried about the race and getting maximum points," said the Kiwi. "Both Dario and myself are in the top five which is a good starting position. We have been working on the racecars quite a lot this morning so I hope that pays off for tomorrow."
Marco Andretti capped a consistent day for the No. 26 Andretti Autosport crew – running 22nd on the road, the American took third position with an average speed of 181.005mph, prompting the 26-year-old to say afterward that "We can do it from here."
Andretti's time bumped Helio Castroneves to fourth. The Brazilian admitted that he had struggled in practice and that changes prior to qualifying had made his car stronger ahead of his run, so he was delighted to be on the second row.
Alex Tagliani missed out on third position thanks to a poor first lap in the 179mph bracket, but was happy that once again the FAZZT car punched above its weight to land sixth, just behind Franchitti. Meanwhile Takuma Sato put in an impressive performance in the Lotus-colored KV Racing car to go seventh. It was particularly noteworthy given that the Japanese was the third driver to go out on track.
Ryan Briscoe admitted that his qualifying setup was "thrown on" the No. 6 Penske car at the last minute as he set the eighth fastest time – the Australian another who was more concerned with his race pace.
Danica Patrick went ninth fastest in the second Andretti Autosport car while Dan Wheldon bumped Justin Wilson out of the top 10 on the final run of the day.
Ryan-Hunter Reay and Vitor Meira occupied 12th and 13th spots ahead of Alex Lloyd who ran impressively for Dale Coyne Racing despite recovering from an appendectomy the previous week.
Of the other runners, Tony Kanaan was a mystified 15th. The Andretti Autosport man had been fastest of all in first practice and said he was delighted with the balance of his car, which remained stable in qualifying – it's just that he had no clue where the speed went when his run came about.
Graham Rahal was a conservative 17th, admitting that he had wanted to get the D&R car through qualifying without a dent. Milka Duno, after setting midfield times in practice, backed her Dale Coyne car into the wall on her qualifying run, but Coyne stated that the damage is repairable in time for tomorrow's race.