Led by rookie Felix Rosenqvist, the Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas locked out the front row for the IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
The 27-year old Swede edged his veteran team-mate Scott Dixon by 0.0194s to claim his first IndyCar Series pole position.
Rosenqvist qualified third and finished fourth in the season opener at St Petersburg, but has struggled for results in the subsequent three races.
However, he found a lap of 1:08.2785s to become the first IndyCar rookie pole-sitter since Robert Wickens paced qualifying for the 2018 season opener.
“The car has been amazing and we were solidly in the top five all day,” remarked Rosenqvist.
“This is fantastic and big thanks to my team. It was a really smooth day for both the #10 car and the #9 car.
“We’ve been stuck in the mid-pack and it’s good to be back at the front like we were in St Petersburg.
“I felt really good in the car and felt for the first time this year that I could drive calmly, and not at 120 percent.
“That made the difference today.”
Five-time series champion Dixon was not too unhappy to be pipped by his less experienced teammate.
Dixon has finished second the last two years in the IndyCar Grand Prix but is seeking his first win on the IMS road course.
“Huge congrats to Felix. He’s a huge talent and it’s cool to see him get a pole this early in his IndyCar career,” said Dixon.
“We may have left a little on the table on our first qualifying lap in the Fast Six, but the good thing is both Ganassi cars are very similar and they’ve been quick every weekend.
“I think we’ve been in the Fast Six for every race and now let’s see what happens in the race tomorrow.”
Jack Harvey (#60 Meyer-Shank Racing Honda) and Ed Jones (#20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) posted career best qualifying performances and reached the Fast Six for the first time.
They’ll be split by Circuit of the Americas winner Colton Herta, who qualified fourth in the #88 Harding Steinbrenner Honda.
Three-time IndyCar Grand Prix pole-sitter Will Power earned the final berth in the Fast Six and will chase his fourth victory in the event.
“We don’t seem to have the ultimate pace of the guys in front of us, but you know how these races can go,” said Power.
“We’ll have a think about it tonight and do our best to move up.”
Power (2015, ’17 and ’18) and his Team Penske team-mate Simon Pagenaud (2014 and ’16) are the only drivers to have claimed victory in the IMS road course event that has served as the lead-in to the Indianapolis 500 for the last five years.
Pagenaud made it out of the first round of qualifying but failed to join his team-mate in the Fast Six. The #22 Chevrolet earned eighth place on the grid, next to the Honda of Graham Rahal.
Several big names were eliminated in the first round, including IndyCar championship leader Josef Newgarden.
The 2017 series champion could not explain a 0.6s deficit to the leaders that left the #2 Team Penske Chevrolet on the sixth row of the grid with Dale Coyne Racing rookie Santino Ferrucci.
“One of the areas we’ve struggled with is tyre temperature and I’m not sure what we are missing,” said Newgarden.
“We have some work to do.”
Other first round casualties included the Hondas of Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi and his Andretti Autosport team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is struggling with flu.
None of the four Andretti cars cracked the top 12 and Marco Andretti will share the back row with fading veteran Tony Kanaan.
Team Penske sportscar pilot Helio Castroneves is set to line up 15th in his return to Indy cars for the month of May.
The ambient failed to top 16 degrees Celsius for practice or qualifying, with similar cool conditions and a strong probability of rain forecast for the 85-lap race.
The green flag will wave at 0540 AEST on Sunday.
Starting grid: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course)
|1||10||Felix Rosenqvist (R)||D/H/F||1:08.2785||Fast Six|
|2||9||Scott Dixon||D/H/F||1:08.2979||Fast Six|
|3||60||Jack Harvey||D/H/F||1:08.3238||Fast Six|
|4||88||Colton Herta (R)||D/H/F||1:08.3743||Fast Six|
|5||20||Ed Jones||D/C/F||1:08.4609||Fast Six|
|6||12||Will Power||D/C/F||1:08.7901||Fast Six|
|7||15||Graham Rahal||D/H/F||1:08.2153||Top 12|
|8||22||Simon Pagenaud||D/C/F||1:08.2445||Top 12|
|9||7||Marcus Ericsson (R)||D/H/F||1:08.2497||Top 12|
|10||18||Sebastien Bourdais||D/H/F||1:08.2998||Top 12|
|11||30||Takuma Sato||D/H/F||1:08.3300||Top 12|
|12||21||Spencer Pigot||D/C/F||1:08.4697||Top 12|
|13||2||Josef Newgarden||D/C/F||1:08.6240||Group 1|
|14||19||Santino Ferrucci (R)||D/H/F||1:08.4499||Group 2|
|15||3||Helio Castroneves||D/C/F||1:08.6497||Group 1|
|16||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||D/H/F||1:08.6235||Group 2|
|17||27||Alexander Rossi||D/H/F||1:08.6994||Group 1|
|18||5||James Hinchcliffe||D/H/F||1:08.7710||Group 2|
|19||31||Patricio O’Ward (R)||D/C/F||1:08.7487||Group 1|
|20||26||Zach Veach||D/H/F||1:08.8170||Group 2|
|21||4||Matheus Leist||D/C/F||1:08.7751||Group 1|
|22||59||Max Chilton||D/C/F||1:08.9572||Group 2|
|23||98||Marco Andretti||D/H/F||1:08.8995||Group 1|
|24||14||Tony Kanaan||D/C/F||1:09.1230||Group 2|
(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)yre: F=Firestone