DETROIT -- Mike Conway won his first career pole for the second of two races at the Detroit Grand Prix.
It was also Dale Coyne Racing's first pole.
"I can't thank the team enough for giving me the car to do it ," Conway said after earning the top spot in qualifying Saturday morning with a lap of 1:18.0977 on Belle Isle's 2.36-mile street course.
Dale Coyne Racing picked Conway to drive its second entry this weekend. In Conway's only other race this year, he qualified fifth and finished 25th at Long Beach for Bobby Rahal.
That was his first IndyCar race since last September's season finale at Fontana, where he decided not to compete because he's uncomfortable racing on ovals. He had serious leg and back injuries after a 2010 crash at Indianapolis and wrecked there again in 2012.
In his first four-plus seasons in the series, Conway has one win – in 2011 at Long Beach – and hadn't qualified better than second until Saturday.
The Englishman is set to start Sunday's race ahead of countryman James Jakes, who qualified a career-best second and lamented losing a shot at his first pole.
All cars were split into two groups – based on Friday morning's practice session – and had 12 minutes instead of an initial plan that was going to have each driver on the track for 30 minutes.
Jakes, though, lost qualifying time because Alex Tagliani spun out to end the session.
"It's a shame we didn't get a few more laps, actually," Jakes said. "I think we would have had a shot at pole if our session hadn't been cut short."
IndyCar's first weekend with two full-length races had a qualifying setup that wasn't popular among drivers.
Conway won the pole and the next-fastest drivers in his group were given odd-numbered spots on the grid for Sunday's race. Jakes was the best in his group, giving him the second spot, and the next-fastest drivers in his group will have even-numbered starting positions.
Defending IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay turned the third-fastest lap, but because he was in Jakes' group, he will start fourth."The way we are qualifying for the second race is not very clever," said E.J. Viso, who qualified fifth for Sunday's event.