Justin Wilson took the pole position with a 49.039-second lap with just 1:30 left in qualifying at the San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway on Saturday.
Sebastien Bourdais, the overall Champ Car points leader who won the previous two San Jose Grand Prix races, will start second thanks to his qualifying victory on Friday, though his Saturday time was just the sixth best of the session.
"It was a difficult session," said Wilson, fourth in the overall points standings.
Wilson and several others were backed up behind a slower car on the track.
"Luckily I had saved enough fuel to get one clear lap," he said, and that was the lap that earned him the pole position.
Things did not go as well for Bourdais.
"We were completely lost this morning," said Bourdais of the practice session. "We struggled all day with one bad rear tire. I'm glad we pulled one out yesterday."
Dan Clarke and Oriol Servia are in the second row, with rookies Neel Jani and Graham Rahal lining up in row three.
"It was really close out there," Clark said. "It was hard to find space for a hot lap."
Jani recorded his best time (49.108) on his fifth lap and was the early leader in the qualifying.
Wilson took over as No. 1 before Servia claimed the top spot with 2:44 left in the session, but Wilson rebounded with the best time of the day to claim the pole for the second time this year.
Will Power, who had the second fastest time on Friday, dropped to 12th after Saturday's racing.