Scott McLaughlin delivered a superb pole position at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville ahead of former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean and Christian Lundgaard.
The New Zealander looked peerless throughout Saturday and delivered in the closing stages of the session after a lengthy weather delay.
Multiple championship contenders missed out on the top 10 including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon. Andretti Autosport driver Colton Herta will start in P21 after causing a red flag and having his lap times deleted.
McLaughlin was delighted to secure pole in Nashville for Team Penske and explained that after making some fine tweaks throughout the weekend he found the sweet spot his number three car.
"Yeah, just stoked, man. The car has been just absolutely phenomenal all weekend since we really rolled out the truck. We massaged it overnight, came out with a beauty today. Really haven't touch it apart from a little bit of front wing."
He also said that the race should be very exciting and McLaughlin’s outing should be made easier by starting at the front of the field.
“I'm really excited for tomorrow. I think it's obviously going to be a pretty blockbuster, crazy race. To start from the front, last year I think I started from Narnia last year, I don't know where I was. I was 20th. So it's going to be a lot easier to start, control the pace hopefully, and see where we go.”
The drivers have endured a humid weekend on the streets of Nashville. Cooling suits allow the driver to stay cool at the cost of performance.
Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward qualified in fifth place and lamented the lack of a cool suit in his number 5 car ahead of Sunday’s 80-lap race.
He said: “Yeah, we don't have them. It's horrible in the car. It's unbearable. Like, I think this is probably going to be the worst race. Yeah, I cannot explain how horrendous it is inside of the car.
"Like tomorrow they'll probably mandate the roof scoops.
“But, yeah, I mean, every braking zone, I'm having to clear my sweat because there's no ventilation in the car. Every braking zone, even with me trying to clear it out, I'm still like splatting sweat all over my visor. It's horrible.”
Christian Lundgaard performed admirably in Qualifying and will line up in third place on his second visit to Nashville. He explained that Turn 9 was prominently on his mind and he was wary of locking the right front.
“I must say it was very understeer-y after that. Kind of shaking the whole way back of the bridge.
“I was kind of worried because that's kind of a right kink breaking into nine, so I was a bit worried locking the right front again there. So I just took it easy and made sure I got the car into the pit lane."
Four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves will take a six-pace grid penalty due to an early engine change and will start at the back of the field.