Ryan Briscoe was part lucky and part good in winning last week's IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio. The same description applied to the Australian's pole-winning effort for tomorrow's Rexall Edmonton Indy, marking his second pole of the season and Team Penske's fourth consecutive overall.
A water leak nearly derailed any chance of success in the final session, which Briscoe fought into with a last-ditch lap right at the end of Q2.
"This didn't come easy," Briscoe surmised. "I did all I could just to get in (to the final session). Going in, I wasn't so confident! It was all I could just to stay in the game. If you would have told me 15 minutes ago that I would be on pole, I would have been dreaming."
Briscoe's teammate Helio Castroneves completes a Penske front row sweep. Castroneves led the day's lone practice session as the first driver to cross the timing line in under 61 seconds. At day's end, the top four were all in the one-minute bracket.
Briscoe set the early pace during the Firestone Fast Six final segment, at a mark of 1:00.7917. He dropped that by six-hundredths over the course of the ten-minute shootout, but his original lap would still have been quickest.
After the Penske pairing, Oriol Servia, Scott Dixon and Will Power completed the top five. Servia and Power trap series points leader Dixon in a KV Racing Technologies sandwich coming to the green flag. Servia edged Dixon for third by the slimmest of margins, one ten-thousandth of a second.
The "Fast Six" group was trimmed to five beforehand as Justin Wilson suffered upper and lower left-side suspension damage to his Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing entry. The Briton swapped ends, caught his car the first time but contacted the barriers in the turn seven complex. He starts sixth.
"I just tried to push it too hard," Wilson said. "The second time I lost it, it bit me. The impact damaged the suspension. Our car's been quick and always gaining lap times, but it's been right on a knife's edge the whole weekend."
Not as fortunate after his own off course excursion was Tony Kanaan in his unique blue livery this weekend. Skating off course on the exit of turn five, Kanaan's car looped around and rolled backwards. Grass caught on the intake damaged the engine and ended his session. Since Kanaan's team will change the engine prior to the race, the Brazilian rolls off stone last.
Completing the top ten are Bruno Junqueira, Graham Rahal, Dan Wheldon, and Mario Moraes. Midpack fireworks should occur given Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Paul Tracy all start within a few spots of each other (12th, 14th and 15th respectively). There were some stories of note from that group.
Junqueira and Moraes give team owner Dale Coyne two top-ten starts, but despite their speed each of the team's drivers has given the crewmembers extended hours of labor after accidents. Junqueira's Thursday shunt saw the team go to a backup car, while in the waning moments of Q2, the rapidly- improving Moraes lost control out of turn seven and walloped the wall.
Tracy was bitterly disappointed to not advance having been in the top ten in each practice. He blamed his lack of speed on carrying extra fuel and its subsequent additional weight. A late full-course caution for Marty Roth's spin left drivers scrambling during Tracy's group's session. While Tracy notched a lap quick enough to advance, he started it after the checkers, nullifying any potential gain.