The 28-year-old Brazilian topped the second list of 11 drivers who qualified for the May 24 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will start on the outside of row four alongside Alex Lloyd.
"I was a little bit surprised, but we did a qualifying simulation during the five minutes before qualifying started," he said after second-day qualifying. "We made a few adjustments in the car for the qualifying run and found almost half a mile an hour."
Paul Tracy qualified at 223.111 mph in his second attempt, which was good enough to put him in the 13th starting position.
Vitor Meira and Justin Wilson took 14th and 15th in qualifying and will share row five with Tracy.
Two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves secured the pole position on Thursday.