Zach Veach triumphed in a thrilling qualifying battle to secure pole position for Sunday's Long Beach Indy Lights race.
For much of the session the front row had been controlled by Belardi team-mates Gabby Chaves and Alex Baron, with the latter having established himself at the top 16 minutes before the end of the session.
With just a couple of minutes remaining the Frenchman returned to the pits to see whether his time would hold, and as the countdown entered the final 30 seconds, he was sought for an interview by the circuit commentary team about what appeared to be his first Lights pole.
Yet the interviewer had not even completed his first question before Veach, Chaves and Matthew Brabham all managed to beat Baron's time with their final runs.
The degree of competition was evident in the fact that the top four were covered by a scant 0.0789 seconds, and Veach admitted that he was fortunate to have secured the top spot.
"On my second-last lap my engineer said: 'You're currently fourth and I'm not here for that, so figure out what you're doing'," said the St Petersburg race winner.
"I'm not sure what I did or how I did it, but it was a magical lap."
Luiz Razia led the pursuit of the top four, albeit 0.7439s in arrears, with Jack Harvey finishing up just short of the Brazilian's time.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Zach Veach Andretti 1m15.0074s
2. Gabby Chaves Belardi 1m15.0349s +0.0275s
3. Matthew Brabham Andretti 1m15.0692s +0.0618s
4. Alex Baron Belardi 1m15.0863s +0.0789s
5. Luiz Razia Schmidt 1m15.7513s +0.7439s
6. Jack Harvey Schmidt 1m15.9463s +0.9389s
7. Scott Anderson Fan Force 1m15.9819s +0.9745s
8. Juan Piedrahita Schmidt 1m16.2681s +1.2607s
9. Juan Pablo Garcia Schmidt 1m16.3914s +1.3840s
10. Vittorio Ghirelli Moore 1m16.4741s +1.4667s
11. Zack Meyer Moore 1m16.4882s +1.4808s
12. Lloyd Read Herta 1m17.2629s +2.2555s