Franchitti, four-time winner the IndyCar series, captured the 27th pole of his career. That put him in a tie with Al Unser for seventh place on the all-time list.
"I'm very pleased and am surprised, actually," Franchitti said. "That was quite a turnaround from practice."
Franchitti won the Milwaukee race from the pole last year.
Justin Wilson had the second-fastest qualifying time, but he was one of seven drivers who made an unapproved engine change and received a 10-spot penalty on the starting grid.
Will Power and Scott Dixon, who are 1-2 in the points race, received the same penalty.