Sebastien Bourdais will use a backup car today from the front row when he attempts to wrap up his third consecutive Champ Car series title.
Bourdais, who needs to finish ninth or better in the Indy 300 to clinch the season championship, hit a tire barrier on the second-turn chicane with about 15 minutes to go in qualifying yesterday and smashed hard into the wall.
He wiped out the left side of his car and his front tire separated and caught on fire. Bourdais, although stunned from the impact, was uninjured.
"I was maybe a little over-optimistic, but at the same time, probably just overshot the apex point by, I don't know, 5cm," Bourdais said of his accident. "By the time I knew what was happening, the car was stopped without the left side. So a little bit of a tough break ... but very good starting position."
An hour after qualifying ended, mechanics in the team pit area had already stripped down Bourdais' main car and were working on the backup to have it ready for today's 59-lap race on the 4.47km temporary street circuit.
"The whole left side was sheered off," said team official Kathi Lauterbach. "It was irreparable."
Australian Will Power's time of 1 minute, 31.403 seconds from Friday's first session held yesterday, giving him the pole position and the first front-row start for an Australian in the 15-year history of the event.
"I think we could have improved on that time, but we only did a couple of laps," Power said. "We have to look to tomorrow."
Power, a rookie, will start next to Bourdais, who inherits his second-fastest time of 1:31.774 he posted on Friday in his No. 1 car.
Bourdais said he was surprised to be in the front row after losing his fastest lap yesterday for causing the red flag to come out following his accident.
Earlier rain and cooler conditions slowed the track and meant seven drivers carried Friday times into the race.
"I knew I'd be somewhere in the top 10, but I was the first one surprised to be there [front row]," said Bourdais.