Justin Wilson retained pole position for the Champ Car finale at Long Beach in second qualifying.
The Briton overcame a strong challenge from Walker Racing's Alex Tagliani to top the decisive session by 0.182 seconds.
For much of the half hour it looked like Wilson (Newman Haas Lanigan) might hold on to pole using his Friday time, which had been half a second clear of the field.
It was only with five minutes remaining that Wilson shaved a tenth of a second off his previously untouchable Friday best, but within moments he was deposed by Tagliani's 1:07.084 effort.
Then with his final lap of qualifying, Wilson produced a 1:06.902 - six tenths quicker than Sebastien Bourdais' 2007 pole time - to reclaim pole for the last ever Champ Car World Series event.
Behind Tagliani, rookie Franck Perera took a superb third place. The Frenchman had been only 16th on the Friday grid after fuel pressure problems in his Conquest Racing machine, but with the glitch rectified he was able to vault up the order today.
KV Racing's Will Power and Forsythe Pettit duo Paul Tracy and Franck Montagny complete the top six.
Nelson Philippe was another driver to make up for a poor Friday today. A gearbox issue meant he failed to set a time yesterday, but he recovered to claim seventh on the grid this afternoon.
Enrique Bernoldi (Conquest), Graham Rahal (Newman Haas Lanigan) and Mario Dominguez (Pacific Coast) will round out the top ten - all improving their times in the second session but losing positions as others made greater gains.
Having been second yesterday, Oriol Servia tumbled to 12th on the grid after failing to set a time today. His KV Racing entry slowed with mechanical problems before he could complete a flying lap. He will start between Dale Coyne's Bruno Junqeira and his KV teammate and owner Jimmy Vasser.
Roberto Moreno (Minardi HVM) and Mario Moraes (Dale Coyne) also had to rely on their Friday times after their best laps this afternoon were deleted for causing red flags. While Moreno prompted a stoppage by slowing to a crawl on the back straight with a transmission problem, Moraes brought his session to a more dramatic end by crashing at Turn 9.
They will line up in 17th and 19th respectively, sandwiching Forsythe's David Martinez, who also went off at Turn 9 in the closing minutes.
Provisional starting grid:
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Justin Wilson Newman Haas Lanigan 1:06.902 2. Alex Tagliani Walker 1:07.084 + 0.182 3. Franck Perera Conquest 1:07.180 + 0.278 4. Will Power KV Racing 1:07.205 + 0.303 5. Paul Tracy Forsythe Pettit 1:07.352 + 0.450 6. Franck Montagny Forsythe Pettit 1:07.360 + 0.458 7. Nelson Philippe Minardi HVM 1:07.415 + 0.513 8. Enrique Bernoldi Conquest 1:07.682 + 0.780 9. Graham Rahal Newman Haas Lanigan 1:07.703 + 0.801 10. Mario Dominguez Pacific Coast 1:07.745 + 0.843 11. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne 1:07.786 + 0.884 12. Oriol Servia KV Racing 1:07.858 + 0.956 13. Jimmy Vasser KV Racing 1:07.859 + 0.957 14. EJ Viso HVM 1:07.927 + 1.025 15. Antonio Pizzonia Rocketsports 1:08.463 + 1.561 16. Alex Figge Pacific Coast 1:08.489 + 1.587 17. Roberto Moreno Minardi HVM 1:08.549 + 1.647 18. David Martinez Forsythe Pettit 1:08.645 + 1.743 19. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne 1:09.279 + 2.377 20. Juho Annala Rocketsports 1:09.555 + 2.653