Briscoe leads Penske 1-2 in Chicago
Briscoe, who earned his fourth PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season, would prefer to be running out front Aug. 29 PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway. Driving the No. 6 Team Penske entry (the 20th of 23 qualifiers), Briscoe had a four-lap average of 215.364 mph to slip past Castroneves.
The pole start also gave Briscoe a bonus point to increase his lead over Dario Franchitti to five and Dixon to 21 entering the 200-lap race - the 15th of 17 on the schedule.
"It's important for the point," said Briscoe, who enters the battle with two victories and seven runner-up finishes among his 11 top fives. "As far as what's going to happen in the race, it doesn't matter where you start. Helio won the race from the last (28th) position last year. It's exciting. A Team Penske front row means the team is working well. We have strong cars and hopefully we can carry that into the race.
"I've had a few firsts this year so hopefully I can have my first win from the pole. There are probably 10 or 12 cars that can win, so it should be a pretty exciting race for the fans. I think we're going to see a lot of pack racing, running two- or three-wide all night long. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble, stay in the front and bring it home in front."
Castroneves increased his speed after each qualifying lap and posted an average of 215.202 mph to gain his third front-row start and fifth consecutive top five of the season. He's fourth in the standings, mathematically eligible for the title but …
"It's pretty close the two cars," he said. "I'm happy to be on the front row and we'll do everything we can to get Ryan more points for the championship."
That doesn't mean he'll back off if in position for the victory.
Franchitti (214.973 mph, also improving each lap) in the No. 10 Lifelock car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing will share Row 2 with Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan (214.661), driving the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven/Oscar Meyer Big Bite car.
"The balance of the car was very good," said Franchitti, who won at Chicagoland in 2007 to lock up the driver championship. "I was very happy with that, but the car as a whole wasn't fast enough. We've got to keep working on that and keep pushing since we've got another two 1.5-mile tracks after this weekend."
Graham Rahal, who won the pole at Kansas Speedway (the last 1.5-mile oval on the schedule), had an average of 214.556 mph in the No. 02 McDonald's car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. He'll be on Row 3 with Dixon (214.494).
"I think we're all right but we're not great," said Dixon, who although he finished second to Castroneves at Chicagoland last October wrapped up the championship by 13 points. "A little more work needs to be done on the No. 9 car although I think the No. 10 car is pretty close compared to the pole sitter."
Marco Andretti (214.428) will start seventh in the No. 26 Meijer entry for Andretti Green Racing, while Mario Moraes in the No. 5 Azul Tequila/Votorantim/KV Racing Technology car (214.331) also posted his third top-10 start on a 1.5-mile oval. Oriol Servia (214.126), competing in his first oval event for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, will start ninth (214.126) and Danica Patrick will be on Row 5 (214.104) in the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola car.
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "It's important for the point. As far as what's going to happen in the race, it doesn't matter where you start. Helio (Castroneves) won the race from the last position last year. It's exciting. A Team Penske front row means the team is working well. We have strong cars and hopefully we can carry that into the race. I've had a few first this year so hopefully I can have my first win from the pole. It's going to be a tough race. There are probably 10 or 12 cars that can win, so it should be a pretty exciting race for the fans. I think we're going to see a lot of pack racing, running two- or three-wide all night long. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble, stay in the front and bring it home in front."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified second): "It's pretty close between the two Team Penske cars. I'm happy to be on the front row, and we'll do everything we can to get Ryan (Briscoe) more points for the championship."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Lifelock, qualified third): "Qualifying was pretty uneventful, for the driver anyway. This qualifying format has more to do with what the engineers do and the way the cars are going. The balance of the car was very good. I was very happy with that but the car as a whole wasn't fast enough. We've got to keep working on that and keep pushing since we've got another two 1.5-mile tracks after this weekend. The car felt pretty good this morning and whether it's good enough, we'll find out tomorrow."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven/Oscar Meyer Big Bite, qualified fourth): "We have a good car, and if the weather cooperates with us ,we will have another practice session later today. We got the 7-Eleven/Oscar Meyer Big Bite car back to where it needs to be. It's going to be a great race tomorrow."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified sixth): "My qualifying run wasn't too bad. As Dario (Franchitti) said, there's not much going on in qualifying. You just follow the white line and hold the pedal flat and see what you come up with. I think we're all right but we're not great. A little more work needs to be done on the #9 car although I think the #10 car is pretty close compared to the polesitter, but we're a little ways back. We've got a little work to do. The car felt great this morning in traffic, especially with the weather conditions. It was pretty cold and there was a lot of downforce on the car. I'm not sure if you'll see the cars going off as much as you did in the past."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, qualified fifth): "The McDonald's car felt good all day, especially in traffic. I just kind of expected more in qualifying. I thought the McDonald's car was going to be a little quicker in qualifying trim but it still feels good to be fifth. I thought we would get a high 214 (mph) or low 215 but I can't complain about it since we're fifth. The guys have worked awfully hard to put the McDonald's car up front all year. We've just got to get the race part figured out. Our car is good in traffic so hopefully it will work out for us."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Meijer, qualified seventh): "Our average speed today obviously wasn't all that impressive, but starting seventh isn't bad and we can do what we need to from there. I think we have a better race car than a qualifying car. Hopefully we can back that up tomorrow night and put on a good show for the fans.
MARIO MORAES (No. 5 Azul Tequila/Votorantim/KVRT, qualified eighth): "The KV Racing Technology team did a great today. It's good to be back on an oval and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. I have learned this year that even if you start in the back, like we did in Kentucky when qualifying was cancelled, if you have a fast car, which we do, and drive a smart race you can finish in the front. So starting ninth tomorrow, I think we can have a good race."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, qualified ninth): "The car feels amazing; it's really comfortable for me and has good speed. It's almost too comfortable for qualifying. In a way it's good because we still have decent speed which will be good for tomorrow. We're in good shape and I'm very excited to have a good oval car. I think we should have a great race tomorrow."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, qualified 10th): "I really thought we had a faster car than the result show. I drove far more aggressively during the qualifying run than I did during this morning's practice. We didn't make a whole lot of adjustments to the car from this morning and we were quicker then than we are now, I don't really know. But once the race starts tomorrow night anything can happen and it's really anyone's game."
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