Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves claimed his 50th IndyCar pole at Phoenix International Raceway in a session dominated by the Chevrolet-powered cars.
Scott Dixon was the first driver to put his Dallara-Chevy into the 190mph region to go quickest, before St Petersburg race winner Juan Pablo Montoya snatched provisional pole with a pair of storming 191mph hour laps to set a total time of 38.4520s – 0.2 seconds quicker than Dixon.
Minutes later Montoya’s Penske team-mate Castroneves pipped Montoya’s time with a duo of laps in the 192mph speeds for a combined 38.2604s.
The achievement took Castroneves’s pole tally in the current series to 43, and to 50 in top-line American single-seater racing overall when added to his seven from CART Champ Car.
Chip Ganassi Racing pair Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan looked to have the pace to challenge the Penske runners, but Kanaan could only manage second, while Kimball slotted into fourth behind Montoya.
Will Power, on his return after missing the St Petersburg race, was much more conservative than his Penske colleagues and couldn’t better ninth.
It was a difficult day for the Honda crews – following Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe’sheavy shunts during first practice, second car out Carlos Munoz lost the rear end in Turn 1 and shunted the wall to delay the session by around 15 minutes.
Circuit medics gave the Columbian a check-up for soft tissue damage before discharging him.
Sato and Hinchcliffe meanwhile were unable to take part in qualifying given the extensive damage to their chassis.
Final runner Marco Andretti qualified quickest of the Hondas with his two lap average speed of 189.071mph leaving the Andretti driver 0.7s adrift of Castroneves’s time. Andretti will line up on row six.
IndyCar oval debutants and Formula 1 refugees Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi qualified in eighth and 14th respectively.
IndyCar last visited the Arizona circuit in 2005 when Bryan Herta claimed pole with a 20.3837s single-lap time.