Lexington, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Sebastien Bourdais dealt with wet track conditions and topped Josef Newgarden in the closing seconds of Saturday's qualifying to win the pole for the IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Rain tires were used in all three rounds of knockout qualifying, as a thunderstorm passed over this 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course about an hour before the start of the session. The wet surface impacted lap times significantly during the first two rounds before the track had dried somewhat for the last segment.
Bourdais' final lap was clocked in 1 minute, 24.1610 seconds. The driver of the No. 11 car for KVSH Racing earned his second pole of the season. Two weeks ago, he started on the pole and led 58 of 65 laps to win race 1 in the weekend doubleheader in Toronto.
"The last lap I knew I was shy and needed some more, so I just went for it and made it stick," Bourdais said. "It was a totally different (in the final "Fast Six" segment) from the first two segments. There was a developing dry line. So we went from totally outside to having to venture in not really well known territory with wet tires, which was difficult."
Bourdais also scored his 33rd career pole, which placed him in a tie with Dario Franchitti for seventh on IndyCar's all-time pole winners list.
Josef Newgarden, who is behind the wheel of the No. 67 entry for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, held the provisional pole after making his last lap in 1:24.6787. Bourdais beat Newgarden's time seconds later.
"I honestly think the rain helped a little bit, just spread everyone out because it's so tight," Newgarden said. "We were able to pull out a good lap. The car was great. Just trying to get the most out of each lap was the key. You couldn't make any mistakes."
Tony Kanaan qualified third, while rookie Carlos Munoz took the fourth spot. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth.
Finishing sixth through 10th were: Will Power, Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and rookie Carlos Huertas.
Helio Castroneves, the current points leader, qualified a season-low 15th. Castroneves enters Sunday's 90-lap race here with a 13-point advantage over second-place Power, his teammate at Team Penske.
"Unfortunately, the qualifying session was a bit crazy," Castroneves said. "Not only was it wet, but there were also so many yellows that we only got one timed lap in. At the end of the day, it was the same for everyone. We were the first car out and tried some different lines. Sometimes that is not the best place to be. It gives the other guys some direction on where to run. It is what it is though. We'll just have to keep working and hope the race tomorrow is better than qualifying."
Scott Dixon, who has won four of the past seven races at Mid-Ohio, qualified 22nd after his two fastest laps in the first round were disallowed because of bringing out a red flag for a spin off course.
"Not the best qualifying session we've had this year, I can tell you that," Dixon said. "We'll have to come up with a great strategy for tomorrow to dig us out of this hole."