Briscoe Leads Long Beach Qualifying, But…

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, April 14 2012

Ryan Briscoe was fastest in qualifying in Long Beach but will not start from pole. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)


Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske was the fastest qualifier on Saturday for Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but he will not start from the front row of the grid.

That’s because Briscoe drives a Chevrolet-powered Dallara and earlier this week, INDYCAR officials penalized all teams using the GM engines. The penalties  – 10 spots on the grid  – were the result of unapproved engine changes by Chevrolet.

So, Briscoe will start 11th. Even though he set the track record in qualifying.

“It bites,” said Briscoe, who recorded his first pole award since Chicagoland in 2010 and first on a road/street circuit since Mid-Ohio in 2009. “The important thing is we know we have a fast car and we’re making the best of the situation.”

Starting from the pole on Sunday will be Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti, who was fourth fastest in qualifying.

All the competitors in the Firestone Fast Six but Franchitti were driving cars powered by Chevrolet engines.

“In the Firestone Fast 6 we knew where we’d be starting regardless of what time we did,” Franchitti said, “but we kind of wanted to earn it. We didn’t quite have it in the car. So we’ll go back tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”

Franchitti, the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion who hadn’t qualified for the Firestone Fast Six in the two previous races, will be joined on the front row by rookie Josef Newgarden in the No. 67 Honda-powered Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car. Newgarden was bumped from competing in his first Firestone Fast Six by Viso (by 0.0301 of a second) on the final lap of the second round.

Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud will share Row 2, while Scott Dixon, whose No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car experienced a transmission fire in Round 2, and Takuma Sato will be on Row 3.

“It was a really good day for the No. 18 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda,” Wilson said. “I made a little mistake in the last qualifying session and I think it cost me advancing to the Firestone Fast Six. The Dale Coyne Racing team has done an outstanding job giving me a great car. We are leaps and bounds of where we were at Barber two weeks ago.”

Briscoe said getting to the front will be difficult from his starting spot, but not impossible.

“Last year we started 12th, and through strategy ended up leading a lot of laps in the race,” he said. “So we’re going to look at all of that. It’s going to be tough – it’s a really hard track to pass on, so we’re going to have to do our best and see what we can do to get to the front.”

Qualifying Saturday for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 1.968 mile(s) Streets of Long Beach, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine,time and speed in parentheses:

1. (2) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 01:08.6089 (103.264)

2. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 01:08.7073 (103.116)

3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 01:08.7163 (103.102)

4. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.0327 (102.630)

5. (5) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 01:09.0634 (102.584)

6. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 01:09.2109 (102.365)

7. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.0697 (102.575)

8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 01:09.0846 (102.553)

9. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.0910 (102.543)

10. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 01:09.1987 (102.383)

11. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.2078 (102.370)

12. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.3658 (102.137)

13. (15) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.9000 (101.356)

14. (14) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.8868 (101.375)

15. (38) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 01:09.9796 (101.241)

16. (4) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 01:10.3794 (100.666)

17. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 01:10.0188 (101.184)

18. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 01:10.5939 (100.360)

19. (8) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevy, 01:10.0651 (101.117)

20. (22) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Lotus, 01:10.6835 (100.233)

21. (98) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Lotus, 01:10.8168 (100.044)

22. (19) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 01:10.7579 (100.127)

23. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 01:11.4519 (99.155)

24. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Lotus, 01:10.8154 (100.046)

25. (6) Katherine Legge, Dallara-Lotus, 01:12.1142 (98.244)

26. (78) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 01:12.0590 (98.319)

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, April 14 2012
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