Simon Bourdais, the overall Champ Car points leader who won the previous two San Jose Grand Prix races, will start second thanks to his qualifying victory Friday, though his Saturday time was just the sixth best of the session.
"It was a very difficult session," said Wilson, fourth in the overall points standings. Wilson and several others were backed up behind a slower car on the track.
"Luckily I had saved enough fuel to get one clear lap," he said, and that was the lap that earned him the pole position.
Things did not go as well for Bourdais.
"We were completely lost this morning," said Bourdais of the practice session. "We struggled all day with one bad rear tire. I'm glad we pulled one out (Friday)."
Dan Clarke and Oriol Servia are in the second row, with rookies Neel Jani and Graham Rahal lining up in row three.
"It was really close out there," Clark said. "It was hard to find space for a hot lap."
CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC: In San Jose, Calif., Champ Car Atlantic Championship veteran Jonathan Bomarito picked up his first career pole position in qualifying for today's race.
Bomarito broke the Atlantic track record with a qualifying lap of 93.962 mph. The third-year driver was also quickest in Friday's provisional round of qualifying and was guaranteed a front-row start.