Ryan Briscoe wins pole for 96th Indy 500
"That was very difficult to get back in the car and go out to qualify," related the Team Penske driver, who started 26th.
On May 27, he'll have a decidedly better view of the first turn.
Briscoe's four-lap time of 2 minutes, 38.9514 seconds (average speed of 226.484 mph) in the 90-minute shootout for the top nine qualifiers bested the time of 2:38.9537 (226.481) posted by James Hinchcliffe to earn the pole position for the 96th Running of the 500 Mile Race.
The time differential of 0.0023 of a second is the closest 1-2 in race qualifying history (equivalent to 9.168 inches over the four laps). The 1970 time trials yielded a difference of 0.01 of a second between pole winner Al Unser (3:31.49) 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."
Briscoe is the first Australian citizen to sit on the pole at Indianapolis (Scott Dixon was born in Australia but claims New Zealand as his homeland). It's the 17th pole start for team owner Roger Penske at the Speedway.
"A week ago I didn't think we'd have a shot for the pole," said Briscoe, whose best Indy 500 finish is fifth in 2007 (his only IZOD IndyCar Series race of the season).
Briscoe and Hinchcliffe, competing in his second Indy 500, will be joined on the front row for the 200-lap race May 27 by Ryan Hunter-Reay (226.240). It's the first time brothers-in-law (Hunter-Reay and Robby Gordon) have started on the front row.
Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti, IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power and four-time pole sitter Helio Castroneves will be on Row 2. Rookie Josef Newgarden -- the only Honda driver in the shootout - and KV Racing Technology teammates Tony Kanaan and E.J. Viso will share Row 3.
Four different teams are represented on the front three rows.
Other notables from the first day of time trials; the final nine spots will be filled on Bump Day (May 20) from noon to 6 p.m.:
• Rubens Barrichello, competing in his first oval event, qualified 10th in the No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology car. "It's been an awesome experience. I'm proud."
• Alex Tagliani, the 2011 pole winner with a four-lap average speed in the shootout of 227.472 mph, checked in at 11th in the No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA car. Team co-owner Bryan Herta won the 500 Mile Race last year with driver Dan Wheldon.
• Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, who have three Indy 500 wins between them, will start 15th and 16th, respectively.
• Michel Jourdain Jr., who last competed in the "500" in 1996, qualified 22nd in the No. 30 Office Depot/Rahal Letterman Racing car.
• Sebastian Saavedra, who will "do the double" of competing in the Freedom 100 and Indy 500 for the second time, cracked the top 24 with one minute left in Segment One. His four-lap average speed of 222.811 mph bumped Wade Cunningham to Bump Day.
• Drivers Ed Carpenter, Bryan Clauson and Oriol Servia crashed on qualifying laps. They're all OK and will have cars ready for Bump Day.
POLE DAY NOTEBOOK:
Howie Mandel, judge on "America's Got Talent," the top-rated summer reality competition series on NBC, will serve as honorary announcer for the 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 27.
On Race Day, Mandel will give the famous command, "All cars to the grid!" to start the countdown to the green flag. His signature humor will put a distinctive spin on a time-honored tradition executed for decades by the legendary "voice of the Speedway," Tom Carnegie.
HOWIE MANDEL: "I'm very honored to be chosen to call the cars to the grid at this year's Indy 500 … for the 10th time, this being the first time I've actually gotten to do it on site. The fans, teams and drivers will be waiting for me to give the command. It'll be an experience of a lifetime that I'll never forget."
JEFF BELSKUS (President and CEO, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation): "This year is the start of the next 100 years for the most important race in motorsports. We're entering this new era with a reinvigorated sport that is intent on evolving with the times. Howie Mandel will bring a unique entertainment value to the race that elevates its profile in a non-traditional arena before potential new fans."
Oriol Servia was the only driver not to turn a lap on Fast Friday. He talked before practice this morning about the issues that kept the team from the track.
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): "We had little issues on the installation of the engine, but we found it, so everything's good. We lost a day of fine-tuning toward the top boost and find speed. It always helps to have more laps. We feel we'll be OK. The car actually felt great this morning. It's just the power is low; it doesn't have top speed. The car is very well balanced; it just doesn't seem to pull in the straights. They just pulled the car back to the garage. We'll have to find some magic."
The No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus driven by Simona De Silvestro missed its spot in the pre-qualifying technical inspection line and has lost its guaranteed qualifying attempt. The team can enter the qualifying line before 4 p.m. if there is a break in the line.
Today is the 39th birthday of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti.
Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing has a noticeable presence this May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year with its creative team golf carts. While marketing the Fuzzy's brand and the team is the goal, Ed Carpenter Racing has found the ultimate way to achieve that while paying tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces. The team added to its fleet of vehicles in a big way through a huge pickup truck adorned with Fuzzy's signage and camouflage decals.
WARREN POLSLEY (Promotions, Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing; former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant E-5): "We've added a new truck to our fleet. It's an International Harvester CXT (Commercial Extreme Truck). It's the world's largest production pickup truck. We call it the pickup truck on steroids. When we got it, it had the camouflage paint job on it so we thought we'd run with it. Of course, we're out here promoting Fuzzy's (Ultra Premium Vodka), but we thought what a great way to support our troops, as well. They all make the ultimate sacrifice for us when they need to, and we thought what a way to pay them back a little bit." (On the team's approach to marketing): "If you're not being seen, you're forgotten. It (the truck) fits in great with the team. We have a vodka as a sponsor that's made in the U.S.A. We have an American driver (Ed Carpenter), and we have an American engine with Chevrolet. As it says on the side of the truck, we're American-made and American-driven, and we're very proud of it. These things roll around with the whole INDYCAR circuit, plus we go on tour with Fuzzy (Zoeller). This is going to allow us to do both at the same time now. We'll keep it out there; we'll keep it in front of people and get them excited about it , not only our product but we want them to be excited about INDYCAR and the professionals on the (PGA) Champions Tour."
Indianapolis 500 veteran Ed Carpenter talked this morning about the pressure of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Carpenter is the owner-driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
ED CARPENTER: "Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is more stressful for me than the race itself. I get more anxiety for qualifying, especially if you have a car that can make the front row. Or now you have a chance to make the Top Nine Shootout on the first day. There just is much at stake then. We are trimmed out so much with the qualifying setup compared to the race setup. Especially when you are on the edge with a chance for the front row or the shootout, you take so many more risks. You are trying to get out just little things on the car to pick up tenths of a mile per hour. You are usually separated by the smallest amount on qualifying days. So it is very stressful for the drivers. Those morning practices on Pole Day when the track is much cooler than during the afternoon qualifying runs can be very intense. If you can go out and put together four good qualifying speeds, that is one of the most rewarding times of the month."
Toronto native James Hinchcliffe made his qualifying attempt during the first segment today with driving gloves used by late Canadian open-wheel star Greg Moore stuffed inside his racing suit. The gloves were given to Hinchcliffe by one of Moore's former mechanics.
Hinchcliffe won the Greg Moore Legacy Award in 2010 as the rising star of Firestone Indy Lights.
All five Andretti Autosport cars qualified in the top 24 - #27 Hinchcliffe, #28 Hunter-Reay, #26 Andretti, #25 Beatriz, #17 Saavedra.
Drivers qualified for the Fast Nine Shootout: #27 Hinchcliffe, #12 Power, #28 Hunter-Reay, #3 Castroneves, #2 Briscoe, #11 Kanaan, #26 Andretti, #67 Newgarden, #5 Viso.
•Team breakdown: Andretti Autosport, 3; Team Penske, 3; KV Racing Technology, 2; Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, 1.
•Engine breakdown: Chevrolet 8, Honda 1.
FAST NINE POLE QUALIFYING CHRONOLOGY:
At 4:30 p.m., the ambient temperature was 88 degrees with a relative humidity of 31 percent and winds from the east-southeastat 5 mph. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 116 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.
Pulled off track after warm-up lap of 198.253 mph.
Pulled off track after warm-up lap of 220.015 mph.
Cloud covered sun on Briscoe's last three laps.
#2 Briscoe takes pole from #26 Andretti.
Warm-up lap was 227.009 mph.
Hinchcliffe missed pole by 23 10-thousandths of a second over the 10-mile qualification run.
Gun to end qualifying fired when Power was on his second lap.
#12 Briscoe wins pole for 96th Indianapolis 500.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
•This is the first Indianapolis 500 pole for Ryan Briscoe. His previous best start was second in 2009. This is his third front-row start, as he also qualified third in 2008.
•This is the closest margin between the top two qualifiers in Indianapolis 500 history, as Ryan Briscoe edged James Hinchcliffe by .0023 of a second. The previous record was .01 of a second between pole sitter Al Unser and Johnny Rutherford in 1970.
•This is the record 17th Indianapolis 500 pole for team owner Roger Penske. Other Penske pole winners: Rick Mears (1979, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991), Helio Castroneves (2003, 2007, 2009, 2010), Tom Sneva (1977, 78), Bobby Unser (1981), Emerson Fittipaldi (1990), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006).
•Ryan Briscoe is the first Australian national driver to win the Indianapolis 500 pole. The previous best was second by Briscoe in 2009 and Will Power in 2010. 2008 pole winner Scott Dixon was born in Australia but claims New Zealand citizenship.
•Two Andretti Autosport drivers qualified on the front row, James Hinchcliffe in second and Ryan Hunter-Reay in third. This is the first time Andretti Autosport has placed two cars on the front row since 2007, when Tony Kanaan started second and Dario Franchitti third.
•This is the first Indianapolis 500 pole for Chevrolet since Bruno Junqueira in 2002.
•This is the seventh Indianapolis 500 pole for Chevrolet.
•James Hinchcliffe qualified an Indianapolis 500-best second. His previous best was 13th in 2011, when he drove as a rookie for Newman/Haas Racing.
•Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified an Indianapolis 500-best third. His previous best was 17th in 2010 in an Andretti Autosport entry.
•Marco Andretti qualified an Indianapolis 500-best fourth. His previous best was seventh in 2008.
•Josef Newgarden is the top-qualifying rookie, in seventh. It's the best qualifying spot for a rookie since Danica Patrick qualified fourth in 2005.
•E.J. Viso qualified an Indianapolis 500-best ninth. His previous best was 18th in 2011.
•This is the first time Chip Ganassi Racing failed to qualify a car in the first three rows of the Indianapolis 500 since 2005. Graham Rahal qualified 12th, Charlie Kimball 14th, Scott Dixon 15th and Dario Franchitti 16th today. In 2005, Dixon qualified 13th, Darren Manning 19th and Ryan Briscoe 24th.
•INDYCAR Timing and Scoring calculated that the distance between pole winner Ryan Briscoe and No. 2 qualifier James Hinchcliffe would have been 9.168 inches if they were on track simultaneously.
Will Phillips, vice president of technology for INDYCAR, talked about the protection the new Dallara chassis provided drivers involved today in accidents.
WILL PHILLIPS: "While we never like to see any car involved in an incident, we have been very pleased to see all of the drivers walk away from the 200-mph plus impacts. All the credit to Dallara and those who had input into the safety of the new car."
FRONT ROW QUALIFIERS QUICK QUOTES:
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet, pole): "This is unbelievable. Those four laps were so good and so consistent. It was Lap 4 that won me the pole today; that was the setup I had on it. Everyone at Team Penske has worked so hard. Chevrolet, man, they gave us the horsepower. I'm really proud of them and IZOD. Getting a pole at Indy, this is huge. I certainly had good schooling from Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves. It feels good to get my first one here."
ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Team Penske): "It is all about our people, the team, and certainly Ryan (Briscoe) needed this one. He's done a great job for us. Today he stretched himself. The guys did a great job. It was just a pleasure to bring that Chevrolet engine down home to the front with IZOD as our sponsor. I want to thank everybody that has supported our team for so many years, especially the families. This really is one for Paul Morgan with Ilmor. He helped us build the Chevy engine and was killed in a plane crash. I want to give this pole position to Paul and his family."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, second): "Yeah, the smallest of margins. It's heartbreaking in a sense, you know, 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. I mean it's just, it's been a huge team effort. You'll see our cars are starting second, third and fourth on the grid, the other two drivers, they made the show today. It's awesome to see the kind of results we're getting because these guys have been working so hard. Having the GoDaddy car starting in the middle of the front row is pretty exciting, and like I said, 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 or four laps. But you know, that's Indy, man. It's a gust of wind, it's a shadow over a corner that changes, and that can be the difference. At the end of the day, it's a great result for us."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet, third): "Almost, but I'm just so happy with the team what they've done with the race cars. They've worked so hard, and they put their heart and souls with these things. It so much fun having a fast race car at IMS. I'm definitely taking it in. I've felt the lows here, and I'm certainly taking it in and absorbing the temporary high of being on the front row. Next week is what counts, and I think we have a race car capable of doing two better next week."
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indianapolis 500 Mile on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network at Noon (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.
1. (2) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 02:38.9514 ( 226.484)
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