Before a big Friday crowd in Edmonton, Ryan Briscoe nipped his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves by 1/10th of a second to win the pole position for Saturday's Rexall Edmonton Indy on the City Center Airport circuit. KV Racing Technology's Oriol Servia will start 3rd and points leader Scott Dixon alongside in 4th. Rounding out the top-6 were Will Power and Justin Wilson.
Briscoe navigated the 14-turn, 1.96-mile street circuit in 1 minute, 0.7311 seconds, 116.955 mph to earn his second pole of the season and the third of his career. Castroneves gave Team Penske its 14th 1-2 start with a best lap of 116.753 mph.
Briscoe almost didn’t make it into the Firestone Fast Six, but made it late in the second session, then recorded the pole-winning lap on his third of four laps in the final session. “Unbelievable,” said Briscoe.
“This one didn't come easy. I was doing all I could just to make it into the Firestone Fast Six," said Briscoe. "We were making setup changes throughout the session. We just really got it together in the last 10 minutes of qualifying. It's phenomenal. To have Team Penske 1-2 is absolutely perfect.”
Wilson managed to make it to the final round with a fast lap even though he lost control fighting understeer going through a corner at the end of the second round.
“It was a really good day, right up to the end of the second session," said Wilson. We needed to make the car faster during the day and gain confidence so I could attack more, and I was pleased with the progress. But at the end of the second session, I pushed the car too hard and lost the back exiting (Turn) 6 and made contact with the wall in (Turn) 7. It's disappointing, but that's how it goes. I'm sure the guys will do a good job putting the car back together and we will be able to challenge for the win tomorrow.”
Canadian favorite Paul Tracy just missed making it into the 2nd round final 12 when his team miscalculated and had too much fuel, hence weight, in the car at the end of his qualifying session.
A big surprise was 19-year old rookie Mario Moraes who was 2nd fastest in the Fast-12 group before spinning out late in the session. Driving for Dale Coyne this Brazilian may have a bright future.
“We have a fast car, and it showed today," said Moraes. "I’m disappointed about how things ended, but I’m happy with a 10th starting spot. I was trying to push too hard and spun coming out of the turn. I’m pretty sure we would have made the Firestone Fast Six if that didn’t happen.”
The crew on the #18 car driven by Bruno Junqueira was at the track until 5 a.m. this morning making repairs after Junqueira slid off track yesterday afternoon. The team switched the tub and had to change that tub from an oval setup to a road course setup. The team changed the bell housing, gears, suspension and fuel pump. The crew of #19 Mario Moraes stayed to help until 2:30 a.m.
“The car was loose and got a little air under it. It slammed down so hard it cracked the tub. Now we have to go to our older backup car, which is 30 pounds heavier. The team did an incredible job staying through the night to get the car ready for practice. I would love to reward them with a good finish tomorrow.”
Canadian Paul Tracy qualified 16th and will be competing in his first competitive open-wheel race since finishing 11th at April's Champ Car finale in Long Beach, California.
The Toronto native was close to making the cut when the first round of qualifying was shut down with a minute to go under a full-course caution flag after Roth, also of Toronto, spun out and stalled in the middle of the track.
Tracy managed to get one more lap in before time ran out, but it wasn't fast enough and he will start in the middle of the pack for Saturday's race.
"I went quick enough to advance but the checkered (flag) fell before I got the lap time," said Tracy.
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified first): “This one didn't come easy. I was doing all I could just to make it into the Firestone Fast Six. We were making setup changes throughout the session. We just really got it together in the last 10 minutes of qualifying. It's phenomenal. To have Team Penske 1-2 is absolutely perfect.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): “We had a great day today. Team Penske did an awesome job putting together another front row sweep. I would have liked to start on the pole position, but Ryan (Briscoe) did a great job. We were pushing out there, and I could see everyone else was pushing, too. I think it's better to play catch up. People have a number to go for, so they take some chances and they may be able to beat it in one lap. In the last session, the second group had just finished running and they were still hot, so I was just trying to make the most of the opportunity. It was just one of those laps where you don't want to make a mistake, so I pushed to a certain limit. It just wasn't good enough for pole.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, third): “I am very happy with the performance of the whole KV Racing Technology team. We are the only transition team to have both drivers in the top five, which I think says a lot about where we have come from and where we are right now. The car has felt really good all weekend, so we have everything in our hands to leave Edmonton with a very good result tomorrow.” (About going from seventh to second in Segment Two) “I knew I had it in the No. 5 KVRT car. I had a couple of laps that I got traffic and I got frustrated because I knew I had the lap time to get me into the top six, but fortunately we had that one lap wonder to pull it together and the car performed.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): “It was a pretty good day for us. I can’t believe how close the times were. Kudos for (Ryan) Briscoe and Team Penske for another pole, but we definitely have a good race car here, and we look to be strong tomorrow.”
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, fifth): “It was very competitive. I think it’s a long race tomorrow and we’ll be right there. I’ve very happy for the team to have two cars in the top five.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, sixth): “It was a really good day, right up to the end of the second session. We needed to make the car faster during the day and gain confidence so I could attack more, and I was pleased with the progress. But at the end of the second session, I pushed the car too hard and lost the back exiting (Turn) 6 and made contact with the wall in (Turn) 7. It's disappointing, but that's how it goes. I'm sure the guys will do a good job putting the car back together and we will be able to challenge for the win tomorrow.”
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 18 Z-Line Designs, seventh): “I’m happy with qualifying seventh today, which is the best we have qualified this season. After we crashed the car and damaged it in practice yesterday, I wish I could have given the team a pole for their great effort they put into fixing car. I think they we here until five in the morning working on the car. Hopefully we will have a great result in the race on Saturday.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, eighth): “It’s our highest qualifying on a road course this year, so we are pretty happy about that, but we definitely could have had a better run and definitely would have at the end. On the first run, I couldn’t get a clear track, and on the second run it went yellow, and it killed us. When we got back out there on the new tires for our second run, the car felt pretty darn good. I thought we could make up some time, but it didn’t end up happening. After the yellow, I went back out and didn’t feel that I had all the grip, so I was sliding around quite a lot. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough to keep it in the top six. I didn’t think anybody was going to go any quicker because there was less than two minutes to go, but a few of them did and dropped us out of the top six. It’s going to be pretty tough and physical. It will be hot out, and the track is bumpy s o it will rattle you a lot. Two hours is going to be pretty difficult, but we are going to work hard to get a good results for Rexall, the Oilers and all of the associate sponsors.”
MARIO MORAES (No. 19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, 10th): “We have a fast car, and it showed today. I’m disappointed about how things ended, but I’m happy with a 10th starting spot. I was trying to push too hard and spun coming out of the turn. I’m pretty sure we would have made the Firestone Fast Six if that didn’t happen.”
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Rexall Edmonton Indy July 26 at Edmonton City Centre Airport. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Kentucky 100 on Aug. 9. The race will air at 2 p.m. Aug. 14 on ESPN2.
The top 12 from the first two knockout sessions were: The 12 quickest drivers, the top-six from each of the first two qualifying groups, then competed for 15 minutes to eliminate six drivers for the final segment.
The top 6 after the 2nd knockout session were:
|Final Fast-6 Group|
||Ryan Briscoe (6)
||Helio Castroneves (3)
||Oriol Servia (5)
||Scott Dixon (9)
||Will Power (8)
||Justin Wilson (02)
||Bruno Junqueira (18)
||Graham Rahal (06)
||Dan Wheldon (10)
||Mario Moraes (19)
||Enrique Bernoldi (36)
||Tony Kanaan (11)
||Marco Andretti (26)
||Ryan Hunter-Reay (17)
||Danica Patrick (7)
||Paul Tracy (22)
||Vitor Meira (4)
||A.J. Foyt IV (2)
||Darren Manning (14)
||Mario Dominguez (96)
||EJ Viso (33)
||Hideki Mutoh (27)
||Buddy Rice (15)
||Ed Carpenter (20)
||Townsend Bell (23)
||Marty Roth (25)
||Jaime Camara (34)