Sebastien Buemi stole pole position in the closing seconds of qualifying in Long Beach narrowly edging out Daniel Abt and e.dams-Renault team-mate Nicolas Prost.
Championship leader Prost set the early pace to sit in provisional pole position in qualifying group two but was eventually eclipsed by the late runners in the final minutes of the session.
Abt looked set to start from the front of the grid with a quick lap following a red flag to clear the stricken Trulli car of Liuzzi but Buemi kept his cool to clock a 56.853s. The Swiss driver picks up three bonus points and has the best possible view down into Turn 1 as the lights go out later this afternoon.
Buemi said: “It looked like the track was getting quicker as more rubber was being laid down plus the temperatures were rising. I’m pleased with the result and also a little bit surprised. We will have to see how we get on in the race but for sure we’re starting from a good position."
The Audi Sport ABT driver claimed his highest qualifying spot of the season only 0.084s shy of the polesitter.
He said: “That was a very tough qualifying session for us, especially after what happened in FP1. We didn’t have a lot of running in FP2 or FP3. I was happy just to be in the top-10, so just incredible with this result. I’m very happy.”
Buemi’s team-mate Prost will look to continue his strong run of podium finishes starting in P3. Prost said: “We’ll have to see what we can do in the race. It’s not a bad result and I did my best so I’m happy overall. It looked like the track was improving but I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved and how consistent we’ve been.”
China Racing’s Nelson Piquet Jr finished in fourth with Lucas di Grassi failing to convert his practice pace into a better result in fifth. However, the shortened configuration of the Long Beach track has delivered extremely close times – the top-16 cars being separately by under a second.
Poleman last time out in Miami, Andretti’s Jean-Eric Vergne will start sixth ahead of Amlin Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa. That’s da Costa’s best grid slot of the year beating his previous best of eighth in Buenos Aires.
Home hero Scott Speed will line-up eighth with Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) and Stephane Sarrazin completing the top-10 positions.
To view the results in full click here.