Australia's Will Power will chase his second IndyCar crown on Sunday from pole position at Laguna Seca, where his 68th career pole broke Mario Andretti's record.
Power seized the top spot on the grid late in the final Fast Six qualifying session, edging IndyCar rookie Callum Ilott by 0.0193sec.
The pole is worth an extra point in the championship standings -- giving him a 21-point lead over American Josef Newgarden and New Zealand's Scott Dixon heading into the final race of the season.
"It's such a big day tomorrow. I can't celebrate much because I've got to be so focused on tomorrow," Power said in a post-qualifying interview, although he added, "it just blows my mind I'm out there with Mario."
Andretti had held the series record for career poles since 1985 -- when he snapped a tie with A.J. Foyt at 53.
Power said that Andretti's era was more dangerous, and when the US racing icon and former Formula One world champion broke into the interview to congratulate him, the Aussie told him, "Yours count more."
Saturday's pole, however, is especially valuable with Power leading a pack of five drivers who could claim the title.
Dixon is chasing a record-tying seventh season crown and Newgarden a third in six years.
Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and Scott McLaughlin also have an outside chance should Power falter and fail to get the podium finish he needs to clinch it.
McLaughlin will start from eighth on the grid and Ericsson from 10th.
Dixon nabbed the 13th-fastest qualifying time - failing to advance to the pole position session -- while Newgarden is back in 25th on the grid after a qualifying spin saw him left without a time.