Will Power held off Tony Kanaan to secure pole position for this weekend's IndyCar race at Milwaukee.
The current championship leader was the ninth driver to head out for his run, unloading laps of 168.719mph and 169.811mph to earn a two-lap average of 169.292mph; considerably faster than the speeds seen in practice earlier in the day.
"Definitely wasn't expecting those sorts of speeds," Power admitted. "But the car was very solid, and I had the information from the two team-mates before me about how the balance was changing.
"I wasn't expecting to be on pole but it's good to be at the front."
Kanaan's two-lap average was 168.662mph, and while he lost some time trying to go flat through Turn 1 on his second lap ("I'd seen Will's time and thought that was the only way I'd be able to beat him"), he didn't think he had quite enough for pole.
"I think we've got a pretty good chance [in the race]," he said.
"We've just got to do our thing. We've been showing how quick we've been everywhere, we just need to get some luck on our side."
Ganassi driver Kanaan did succeed in denying Penske a lockout of the front row by bumping Juan Pablo Montoya back to third, leaving Ryan Briscoe and Josef Newgarden to round out the top five.
It was a tough session for two of the championship aspirants. Helio Castroneves paid the penalty for drawing one of the earlier qualifying slots and ended up eighth, while Andretti Autosport missed the set-up completely on Ryan Hunter-Reay's car.
"I wouldn't be surprised if I'm third from last," he said during the session.
It wasn't that bad - he will start from fourth-last alongside team-mate Carlos Munoz, leaving Marco Andretti as the team's top qualifier in ninth.
James Hinchcliffe, whose car needed to be repaired following a crash in second practice, will line up 13th.
Pos Driver Team/Engine Speed 1. Will Power Penske/Chevy 169.262 2. Tony Kanaan Ganassi/Chevy 168.662 3. Juan Pablo Montoya Penske/Chevy 168.579 4. Ryan Briscoe Ganassi/Chevy 168.266 5. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda 168.233 6. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Chevy 168.123 7. Ed Carpenter Carpenter/Chevy 167.775 8. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevy 167.561 9. Marco Andretti Andretti/Honda 167.079 10. Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda 166.915 11. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Chevy 166.742 12. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda 166.501 13. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Honda 166.195 14. Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda 166.032 15. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt/Honda 165.851 16. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda 165.818 17. Jack Hawksworth Herta/Honda 165.614 18. Sebastien Bourdais KV/Chevy 164.421 19. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Honda 164.211 20. Carlos Munoz Andretti/Honda 164.013 21. Sebastian Saavedra KV/Chevy 162.535 22. Carlos Huertas Coyne/Honda 159.787 All drivers use Dallara chassis Qualifying order set by average mph over two-lap run
This week AUTOSPORT is revisiting a great era of Indycar competition, with a special August 14 issue of AUTOSPORT magazine, guest edited by Alex Zanardi and a host of features in print and online.
The rise and fall of Indycar
How splits with the Indy 500 organisers helped create an iconic era, and then end it more than two decades later
Memories of a golden era
The drivers recall their best memories, and remember what it was like to driver the 1000bhp monsters
Ganassi becomes a US superteam
The story of Chip Ganassi's squad, as it became the dominant force in America during the 1990s
Top CART drivers
AUTOSPORT asked racers of the 1993-2001 era to pick out their top rivals, then added up the responses. Here's who came out on top...
Mansell on how he conquered America
The 1992 F1 world champion looks back at his 1993 Indycar success, and the troubles that followed
Great Car: Penske PC23
The machine that beat Mansell and put Penske back on top, with a little help from a special engine for the Indy 500
F1 refugees in America
A look at some of the ex-Formula 1 racers who tried their luck in the States, with varying success
Tributes to Moore, Krosnoff and Rodriguez
Memories of the three racing talents who lost their lives during the period
What was US racing's greatest era?
IndyCar 2014 versus 1990s CART - what comes out on top?