Will Power claimed his second IndyCar pole position in succession with a dominant display in qualifying for tomorrow's race at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Australian Penske driver was fastest in all three of his segments of qualifying and finished the Fast Six session half a second clear at the front.
"It went pretty smoothly once I was able to save a set of reds," said Power referring to the softer, grippier option tires. "I've just got to execute in the race. If we can win, let's win. If not, let's just get as many points as possible. It's going well for us, and I just don't want to make any mistakes.
"It's definitely better to be up front here. It'll be tough to pass because some people will go off strategy hoping to get helped out by a yellow. It's a tough race to win because if you get unlucky with a full course caution you can be down in the pack and not able to pass."
Mike Conway of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will join Power on the front row after earning the best starting spot of his IndyCar career.
Both Conway and Power were fast enough on primary tires to be able to save an extra set of the softer tires for the Firestone Fast Six shootout, and Conway used his on his final run to snatch a front row start away from Power's teammate Helio Castroneves, who was by then circulating on black primes.
"I got through the first session without using the reds and that gave us an advantage for the rest of qualifying, so I'm happy," said Conway. "We've still got a lot to do overnight to improve things for the warm-up, but we should have a good race."
Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport), Takuma Sato (KV Racing) and Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) will complete the first three rows of the grid, but none had the soft tires or the pace to threaten the front row in the Fast Six session.
Dario Franchitti missed the Fast Six session for the second consecutive race when his last effort was fractions shy of Ganassi teammate Dixon's time. Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe, EJ Viso, Justin Wilson and Mario Moraes were the other cars eliminated in Round 2.
Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, currently joint second in the championship standings was a high-profile casualty of Round 1 qualifying when his final effort wasn't quick enough to displace Wilson, while Vitor Meira lost out when he had a trip through the gravel in the last two minutes and was unable to improve his time.
Group 1 of Round 1 was disrupted by a full-course caution caused by Dan Wheldon spinning his Panther Racing car at Turn 5, just as Simona de Silvestro (HVM Racing) and Alex Tagliani (FAZZT Race Team) were expected to set laps that would see them through to the Top 12. When the green flags waved for the final 90 seconds of that session, only Franchitti was able to improve and progress through to Round 2.
1. Will Power Penske 1:10.1356 (118.057)
2. Mike Conway D&R 1:10.6501 (117.197)
3. Helio Castroneves Penske 1:10.6569 (117.186)
4. Marco Andretti Andretti 1:11.0701 (116.505)
5. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1:11.3557 (116.038)
6. Takuma Sato KV 1:11.4387 (115.904)
7. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1:10.6307 (117.229)
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti 1:10.6903 (117.131)
9. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1:10.7602 (117.015)
10. EJ Viso KV 1:10.7757 (116.989)
11. Justin Wilson D&R 1:10.7760 (116.989)
12. Mario Moraes KV 1:11.5219 (115.769)
13. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1:11.0262 (116.577)
14. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1:10.7449 (117.040)
15. Graham Rahal SFR 1:11.1495 (116.375)
16. Alex Lloyd DCR 1:10.9524 (116.698)
17. Hideki Mutoh N/H/L 1:11.2855 (116.153)
18. Raphael Matos LDR/DFM 1:11.0507 (116.537)
19. Danica Patrick Andretti 1:11.5340 (115.749)
20. Vitor Meira AJ Foyt 1:11.1348 (116.399)
21. Alex Tagliani FAZZT 1:11.5669 (115.696)
22. Mario Romancini Conquest 1:11.6020 (115.639)
23. Dan Wheldon Panther 1:11.6095 (115.627)
24. Milka Duno DCR 1:15.1422 (110.191)
25. Bertrand Baguette Conquest 1:11.9800 (115.032)