Briscoe wins pole for Firestone 550K
Briscoe is hopeful that he’s trending June 5 in the Firestone 550K.
He earned the PEAK Performance Pole Award with a four-lap average speed of 215.273 mph (1 minute, 37.3275 seconds) in the No. 6 Team Penske car.
"I think we can just call it a win and not go out (June 5)," joked Briscoe. "I wish. It’s a great feeling to get the pole here. Thanks Dario for falling off that little bit on the last lap.”
Dario Franchitti, seeking to be the third consecutive Indianapolis 500 champion to win at Texas in the same year, was 0.0057 of a second off Briscoe's pace. He'll start on the outside of the front row for the 228-lap race under the lights after an average of 215.261 mph.
“I am actually a little surprised that we ran as quick as we did because in practice the qualifying setup wasn’t anywhere close to that,” said Franchitti, driving the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi car. “The guys on the Target team did a really good job coming up with some tweaks on the car and it was really close on the last lap. I was doing my thing in the car and I didn’t know how exactly close we were to Briscoe’s time but I guess it was pretty close in the end.”
Briscoe earned the 10th pole start of his career (second of the season), and has converted one into victory (2009 Chicagoland Speedway).Two of his five IZOD IndyCar Series victories have been secured on 1.5-mile ovals.
“It’s going to be a tough race and the heat (96 degrees during the 3:45 p.m. local time qualifying) doesn’t make it just as easy flat as everyone talks about here. It’s going to be a long one, and hopefully we can keep the No. 6 Team Penske car out front."
Briscoe's teammate, IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power (215.158), will be on the second row with Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon (215.152), the 2008 Texas race winner. Castroneves (214.411), the pole sitter at Indianapolis and last year at Texas, and Dale Coyne Racing's Alex Lloyd (214.408) will be on Row 3.
The top five qualifiers were separated by 0.3912 of a second and the top 10 by 0.6777 of a second. Hideki Mutoh (214.380) and Danica Patrick (214.098) will be on Row 4, while Mario Moraes (213.800) and Marco Andretti (213.785) will be on the fifth row.
“We worked mostly on race setup in practice and we didn’t do a qualifying simulation so to start seventh is not too bad,” said Mutoh, who started ninth in the Indianapolis 500 and fourth at Kansas in May. “We had a difficult weekend last weekend so we just need a very strong finish here. On my own it is a pretty easy track but with aerodynamic change it’s going to be huge pack-racing so It’s going to be a very, very tough race but a good one for the fans to watch.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who underwent surgery May 31 on his left thumb to repair ligament damage suffered in the Indy 500, qualified 24th (212.298) in the No. 37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport. Tomas Scheckter, filling in for the injured Mike Conway in the No. 24 Roll Coater car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will start 18th. Scheckter is a three-time pole winner at Texas and won the 2005 race. Conway was released from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on June 4.
"We’re going to have to fight hard to go from the back to the front,” Hunter-Reay said. “Qualifying here is easy, but racing here is a completely different story. It’s high intensity. We’re just fighting the same speed issues we fought at Kansas and Indy, and it’s basically an exercise in engineering at this point. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but this team always gives me great race cars. Hopefully, we’ll have something for them."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "It's a great feeling to get the pole here. I have to thank Dario (Franchitti) for falling off a bit on his last lap. It's going to be a long race, and hopefully we can keep the No. 6 Team Penske car up front." (About starting third and finishing third in 2008 and starting second and finishing second in 2009): "I also started 12th and finished 12th in 2005, so we should just call it a win, right? It's going to be a tough race. Racing in this heat it definitely does not make it easy flat like everyone thinks it is. It's going to be a challenging race."
DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 10 Energizer): "It wasn't a bad run. I am actually a little surprised that we ran as quick as we did because in practice the qualifying setup wasn't anywhere close to that. The guys on the Target team did a really good job coming up with some tweaks on the car and it was really close on the last lap. I was doing my thing in the car, and I didn't know how exactly close we were to Briscoe's time, but I guess it was pretty close in the end." (About turning his focus following Indy 500 win): "It wasn't too hard to come here after the Indy 500. There are a lot of points in the season where we have two back-to-back street or road courses that are more physically demanding than the ovals. Indy and Texas certainly have a physical element and they are both mentally demanding. The massive heat could be a challenge here in Texas, but by the time we get to the end of the race tomorrow night, it should be cooled down."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "The Verizon car was very good today. I think qualifying really means something here because I think it's going to be tough to pass tomorrow. It was a great day overall for Team Penske and we're looking forward to a great race tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "We were trying everything we could today in the Team Penske car. We improved on our speed from practice but Ryan just had a great car here and I congratulate him and the team on winning the pole. We feel we are in good shape for the race tomorrow. It's going to be a hot one, for sure. Hopefully we will have a different result tomorrow from Indy last weekend."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): ""I'm very happy with the performance of the Formula Dream / Panasonic team in qualifying. We worked mostly on race setup in practice and we didn't do a qualifying simulation so to start seventh is not too bad. We had a difficult weekend last weekend so we just need a very strong finish here. On my own it is a pretty easy track but with aerodynamic change it's going to be huge pack-racing tomorrow night so It's going to be a very, very tough race but a good one for the fans to watch."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP Luczo Dragon): "It's been a difficult week for the team putting the car back together, but they did an outstanding job in a short period of time. We didn't have the speed to qualify well, but this is a track where you need a good racecar that can run well in traffic. We will work on the racecar tonight and hopefully get it sorted out.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): "Qualifying here doesn't really matter. It's so easy to put four laps together, so it is more of the engineer qualifying than it is the driver. That said, we have spent our time focusing on the race tomorrow night and that is where our minds are. We'll take what we did today and do everything we can tomorrow night."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD): "We're going to have to fight hard tomorrow night to go from the back to the front. Qualifying here is easy, but racing here is a completely different story. It's high intensity. We're just fighting the same speed issues we fought at Kansas and Indy, and it's basically an exercise in engineering at this point. We've got our work cut out for us, but this team always gives me great race cars. Hopefully, we'll have something for them tomorrow night."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "I'm really happy with our qualifying run. It's not very often that you are faster in qualifying than in practice, but we were. We will make a few adjustments before tomorrow night, but other than that, I'm really happy with the GoDaddy car."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "We had the Venom car flat out for qualifying. I would like to see us starting higher than 10th but I think we did some decent work in race trim today. Tonight's practice session will tell more of a story since it will be closer to race conditions. I'm staying optimistic; we can make passing happen and get things done from 10th."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard/Panther Racing): ""Our run wasn't too bad - the National Guard Panther Racing boys have been working hard and we're hoping for a really good result tomorrow night. We're coming off a great result at Indianapolis and the races before that too, which is a testament to the great work of the team. The heat is something we expected and obviously it's going to cool down as we get into the evening, so we're going to work hard to determine how the cooler temperatures affect the car and make the appropriate changes."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team): "It's just a shame because I think the car is pretty good, but somehow we can't find the speed. We're going to keep looking until the warmup tonight and see if we can find some speed. We didn't have the speed today and couldn't really draft or pass in practice this afternoon. In our qualifying, we were flat all the way around and that was all we had so that is disappointing. But we're going to continue to work hard and not throw in the towel. We will work tonight to sort some things out and see if we can improve the car and find extra speed. We'll look at everything and see if there is something little wrong that is just flying under the radar and if we can find it, then we should be all right in the race tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No 8. PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KV Racing Technology): " "We had a good test run this afternoon in practice. So I actually thought I would go a little bit better. I love this Texas track. It is one of my favorite in the championship. I'm looking forward to racing at night. It is a lot of fun. We worked on our race setup too. So I think we'll have a good car in the race. It is a long race, 228 laps, and we will have time to make adjustments with the car."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology): "We were able to make progressive steps in the Lotus car considering the limited practice time. This track is very impressive, the highest banking in the series. It's kind of crazy in a good way. We went straight into qualifying and I am pleased where we ran this afternoon (11th in his first appearance at Texas). We'll see how we do in the night practice this evening. I think we will have a good strong car for the race."
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