Defending Long Beach Grand Prix champion Sebastien Bourdais earned his second pole in as many years at the famed street circuit, and will lead a contingent of seventeen drivers in round two of the Champ Car World Series Powered by Cosworth to Sunday's green flag.
Bourdais' time of 1:07.546 (104.889 mph) beat out Will Power who had taken the provisional pole position on Friday. Power's quick lap of 1:07.695 (104.658 mph) topped Team Australia teammate Simon Pagenaud who nailed down a 107.833 (104.368 mph).
"It was a little bit of a better day today." Bourdais said of the run. "We were a little frustrated after yesterday. Today was a different day and we found some improvements, the track came to us a little bit too."
Dutch native and rookie Robert Doornbos held the top spot for the first ten minutes of the session until Power came out and lowered it down into the 1:08s.
The fastest laps were run in the first fifteen minutes of qualifying, most teams opting for the softer red-walled Bridgestone Potenza's over the harder options.
During morning practice, Bourdais eclipsed Power's provisional pole time with a quick lap of 1:07.732, and then a staggering 1:07.454 during today's pre-qualifying warm-up.
Power turned a 1:07.920 during Friday's round, earning no less than a front row starting spot for Sunday's race. Pagenaud, coming off his 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship title, has now qualified fourth and third in his first two events.
"In pre-qualifying I think we got a bad set of tires or something because suddenly we had a really unbalanced car, it was really nervous to drive." Power said. "So that knocked my confidence a bit (for qualifying) and I wasn't sure what expect in the car so it took me a while to get back up to speed. I got my best lap on the last lap of my first run."
Every driver except for Katherine Legge improved their time over Friday's qualifying. Legge spun out with five minutes to go, bring out a red flag halting the session. The clock continued to run however, and when the green flew, there was just enough time for a warm-up lap and one flyer.
On his final hot lap, Power made a mistake coming into the last corner hairpin at Turn 12; loosing the back end a bit thus negating a lap that still might not have usurped Bourdais anyway.
Despite the slip, Power and team owner Derrick Walker are pleased with the team's progress, now having a start on the front row three out of the past four events.
"The atmosphere is obviously very positive, the team is sensing now that it has something special." Said a please Walker. "It has a great driver lineup, and the engineering with all the work that has gone into it during the winter time is starting to translate onto the race track."
Canadian Alex Tagliani took fourth best at 1:08.047 (104.116 mph), followed by rookie Graham Rahal with a quick time of 1:08.170 (103.928 mph).
Rahal, filling taking over the second seat at Newman Haas Lanigan Racing next to Bourdais, has something to prove this race as the second generation driver never made through Turn One in Las Vegas after wall contact ended his day.
Doornbos ended up in sixth spot after a dismal run on Friday that found him in the bottom half of the group. He currently sits second in the championship seven points adrift of Power.
In morning practice, Paul Tracy suffered a compression fracture to his first lumbar vertebra after wall contact exiting Turn One, and will miss at least this weekend's race. At the time of this writing, Tracy was in the process of being released from St. Mary's Hospital following an examination that confirmed the injury.
No immediate timetable was given for Tracy's return. He'll be replaced temporarily at Forsythe Championship Racing by 2005 Champ Car World Series runner-up Oriol Servia.
Servia is at a slight disadvantage having only run the new Panoz DB01 chassis during testing earlier this year at Sebring. "Tracy's steering wheel is so big." Servia exclaimed while communicating from Tracy's backup car. "It's like driving a bus!"