Justin Wilson took a comfortable provisional pole for Newman Haas Lanigan in first qualifying at Long Beach.
The Briton knocked early pacesetter Alex Tagliani (Walker Racing) off the top of the timing screens halfway through the 30-minute session, and then improved on his benchmark by 0.6 seconds on his next run - ultimately claiming provisional pole with a 1:07.356.
That left Wilson half a second clear of second-placed Oriol Servia, who put his KV Racing onto the outside of the front row with a late lap just 0.029 seconds faster than Tagliani, who had to settle for third.
Mario Dominguez repeated his impressive practice form to score Pacific Coast Motorsport's best ever Champ Car qualifying result. The Mexican took fourth place, ahead of St Petersburg winner Graham Rahal (Newman Haas Lanigan).
Conquest Racing's Enrique Bernoldi completed the top six and was the best of the designated rookies, ahead of Forsythe Pettit driver Franck Montagny, who had been quickest in the pre-qualifying practice session. Fuel pressure problems left Bernoldi's teammate Franck Perera in a lowly 16th.
Montagny - on his US single-seater racing debut - out-qualified his illustrious FPR teammate Paul Tracy by one place and 0.163 seconds.
The final top ten spots went to KV's Will Power and HVM driver EJ Viso.
Veteran Roberto Moreno was 11th-fastest for Minardi HVM, but his fellow returnee Jimmy Vasser had a trip down the Turn 1 run-off and could only manage 15th in his first Champ Car qualifying session in two years.
Antonio Pizzonia put his Rocketsports car 13th on the grid, then spun into the wall at the first corner while trying to improve, while Minardi HVM's Nelson Philippe had to sit out the whole session with a gearbox problem.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Justin Wilson Newman Haas Lanigan 1:07.356 2. Oriol Servia KV Racing 1:07.858 + 0.502 3. Alex Tagliani Walker 1:07.887 + 0.531 4. Mario Dominguez Pacific Coast 1:07.998 + 0.642 5. Graham Rahal Newman Haas Lanigan 1:08.172 + 0.816 6. Enrique Bernoldi Conquest 1:08.272 + 0.916 7. Franck Montagny Forsythe Pettit 1:08.325 + 0.969 8. Paul Tracy Forsythe Pettit 1:08.488 + 1.132 9. Will Power KV Racing 1:08.519 + 1.163 10. EJ Viso HVM 1:08.532 + 1.176 11. Roberto Moreno Minardi HVM 1:08.549 + 1.193 12. Alex Figge Pacific Coast 1:08.549 + 1.193 13. Antonio Pizzonia Rocketsports 1:08.658 + 1.302 14. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne 1:08.813 + 1.457 15. Jimmy Vasser KV Racing 1:09.066 + 1.710 16. Franck Perera Conquest 1:09.153 + 1.797 17. David Martinez Forsythe Pettit 1:09.381 + 2.025 18. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne 1:09.438 + 2.082 19. Juho Annala Rocketsports 1:11.265 + 3.909 20. Nelson Philippe Minardi HVM