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Penske’s Briscoe Wins Pole For 2012 Indy 500

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 19 2012

Ryan Briscoe had a nervous but successful Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

Ryan Briscoe went out early in the Fast Nine portion of Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday, set a surprisingly-fast four-lap speed and then sat nervously in the cockpit of his Chevrolet powered Dallara for the remainder of the 1.5-hour qualifying segment.

When the gun sounded to signal the end of the session, Briscoe had the pole for the 2012 Indianapolis 500 and team owner Roger Penske had his 17th pole in the world’s biggest auto race.

“Wooo, getting the pole at Indy,” a relieved Briscoe said after getting his first P1 starting spot in the 500.

Briscoe’s pole-winning average speed over his four-lap run was 226.484 mph.

“It’s hard not to just be thinking about a starting position for the race,” he said. “But I guess it’s an award where my name will go down forever as something I’ve won here at the Indy 500.

“You know, this race is just so important; it’s so big, and I think even just a pole win here is remembered. So it’s a great feeling. They were four really good laps and I was proud of myself and the team for the setup they gave me today. They were really consistent. It was lap four that got me the pole today. It wasn’t the outright speed that we had. It was the consistency we had over four laps.

“It’s just a great feeling. 17 poles for Roger here at the Indy 500 and to have my name on the list of drivers that have done that for him, it’s a great feeling.”

Second fastest on Pole Day and earning the right to start in the middle of the first row for next Sunday’s 500 was James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport. Hinchcliffe’s four-lap average speed was 226.481 mph.

The time differential of 0.0023 of a second is the closest 1-2 in race history. The 1970 time trials yielded a difference of 0.01 of a second between pole winner Al Unser and Johnny Rutherford.

“Yeah, the smallest of margins; it’s heartbreaking in a sense,” said Hinchcliffe, who recorded the best lap of the session (39.6591 seconds on Lap 1 of his second attempt). “I’m going to lose a little bit of sleep over how small that margin was to Ryan and knowing that we had it there for three laps, but you know that’s Indy. It’s a gust of wind, it’s a shadow over a corner that changes and that can be the difference.

“But at the end of the day we get to start on the front row of the Indy 500, and that’s just the coolest thing ever. At the end of the day it’s a great result for us.”

Starting on the outside of the front row next Sunday will be Ryan Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe’s Andretti Autosport teammate. His run was at 226.240 mph.

All three front-row cars were powered by Chevys.

Fourth fastest Saturday was a third Andretti Autosport driver, Marco Andretti. A nifty turnaround for a team what failed to qualify two of its cars a year ago.

“The way this team is working together is just awesome,” Hinchcliffe said of the big day by Andretti Autosport.

Will Power, Briscoe’s teammate, was fifth while Helio Castroneves, a third Penske driver, was sixth.

Next was rookie Josef Newgarden of Fisher Hartman Racing. Newgarden had the fastest Honda-powered car on Pole Day; he was seventh. Tony Kanaan was eighth and E.J. Viso was ninth.

Briscoe had a rough Month of May a year ago. He crashed hard and finished 27th in the race. He made up for that on Saturday, though a nervous late afternoon it was.

“I was shaking in there,” Briscoe said of sitting in the cockpit as driver after driver took shots at his speed.

Hinchcliffe appeared to be headed for the pole after three laps of his first Fast Nine run, which he started just after 5 p.m.

But on his final lap, he speed slipped and he fell just short of Briscoe’s four-lap average.

Hunter-Reay went out with less than 10 minutes to go in the session – which ran from 4:30 to 6 p.m. – and put a scare into Briscoe on the early laps but fell off on the final laps.

In all, 24 cars qualified for the field, leaving nine potential spots to be filled on Sunday’s Bump Day.

Results of Pole Day qualifying Saturday for the 96th Indianapolis 500 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with rank, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (2) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:38.9514 ( 226.484)

2. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:38.9537 ( 226.481)

3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:39.1233 ( 226.240)

4. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara- Chevrolet, 02:40.6766 ( 225.456)

5. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:39.7004 (225.422)

6. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:39.8780 (225.172)

7. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.6879 (224.037)

8. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:40.1775 (224.751)

9. (5) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:40.4119 ( 224.422)

10. (8) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:40.5253 ( 224.264)

11. (98) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.7144 ( 224.000)

12. (38) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.7437 ( 223.959)

13. (25) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:40.7720 ( 223.920)

14. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.8093 ( 223.868)

15. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 02:40.9413 ( 223.684)

16. (50) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.0144 ( 223.582)

17. (19) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.0866 ( 223.482)

18. (4) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:41.1299 ( 223.422)

19. (15) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.1517 ( 223.392)

20. (99) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.3377 ( 223.134)

21. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.4865 ( 222.929)

22. (30) Michel Jourdain, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.5124 ( 222.893)

23. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 02:41.5138 ( 222.891)

24. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:41.5720 ( 222.811)

(This story will be updated shortly)

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 19 2012
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