Sebastian Saavedra won the first career IndyCar pole on Friday after Ryan Hunter-Reay crashed and was penalized near the end of qualifying on Friday for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Hunter-Reay turned the fastest lap but spun out on the final turn of his next lap, bringing out a red flag to end the final 10-minute session. The penalty, which takes away a driver's fastest two laps for causing a red flag during qualifying, dropped Hunter-Reay to third.
The beneficiary was Saavedra, who earlier bumped rookie Jack Hawksworth off the pole. Saavedra turned a lap at 1 minute, 23.8822 seconds and will lead the field into the first IndyCar road course race at Indianapolis.
Rain affected conditions on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn course during each of the four qualifying sessions.
"I love the rain," Saavedra said. "It was crazy at first because we didn't know what to expect from the track -- if it was going to be wet, if it was going to be dry. The whole session was just weird. It started to rain and went from wet, to dry, to super dry, to super wet. I loved it."
Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport car sustained damage to the right rear in the crash near the front straightaway.
"We definitely gave that one away," Hunter-Reay said.
Hawksworth, who drove in the Indy Lights series last year, will start on the front row of Saturday's race alongside Saavedra.
Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud, who was fastest in the morning practice session, will start in row two. Series points leader Will Power and reigning series champion Scott Dixon qualified in row three.