BRISCOE EARNS FRONT ROW START TO LEAD TEAM PENSKE INTO SUNDAY’S EDMONTON INDY
EDMONTON, Alberta (July 21, 2012) – Ryan Briscoe will start on the front row as Team Penske placed all three of its drivers among the top six starters for Sunday’s Edmonton Indy at Edmonton City Centre Airport.
Briscoe recorded a lap of 77.4238 seconds in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, which was third-fastest during Saturday’s IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone Fast Six final qualifying session. However, due to a 10-spot penalty issued to pole winner and series leader Ryan Hunter-Reay for an engine change, all three Team Penske drivers will move up one position and Briscoe will start on the front row, alongside Dario Franchitti. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves and Will Power starting fifth and sixth, respectively.
The changing weather conditions made for an unpredictable day with three different conditions for the drivers. While the first round of qualifying stayed dry, the long-anticipated rain fell just before round two began, which gave the drivers a wet track for the second round and a drying track to contend with in the Fast Six pole shootout. Briscoe, who spent a substantial amount of the Fast Six session running in the top position, emerged with the fastest lap for the Team Penske trio and he will make his third front-row start of 2012 on Sunday.
“We had to do our best in Q2 in the wet and I wish maybe we would have waited a little bit longer in Q3 with the sticker tires we had that gave a little more speed, but all in all it was good,” said Briscoe. “I’m very proud of the team, my engineer, the setup change we made and it is good to be starting at the front. We’ve got lots of guests here from Hitachi and we need the win for them. I’m looking forward to a good day tomorrow.”
Castroneves clocked a fast lap of 77.6401 seconds around the 13-turn, 2.224-mile temporary street course in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet. That effort was good for sixth-best overall and will give him a fifth-place starting position. Castroneves has finished in the top 10 in all four of his previous races at Edmonton, including three runner-up results.
“It was kind of a crazy qualifying today, but the Penske Truck Rental guys did a great job, especially my engineer, to change everything from dry to rain and then to dry,” said Castroneves, who is ranked third in the series standings. “We’re very happy to be in the Fast Six but of course a little disappointed because you always think you can be a little bit better. Tomorrow we need to use starting near the front to hopefully finish even better.”
Power wasn’t able to earn a spot in the Fast Six session, a first for the Australian driver at Edmonton, instead finishing seventh with a lap of 87.5666 seconds during a rainy third qualifying session in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Currently ranked second in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings, 35 points behind Hunter-Reay, Power will need to continue his recent success of two wins and a second place finish in his last three races at Edmonton to close in on the coveted points lead.
“Tough finish for the Verizon car today, I thought we had a fast car but we didn’t play the weather correctly,” said Power an Edmonton winner in 2009 and 2011. “It sprinkled enough to use the wet (tires) but then created a dry line pretty quick. I should have known better there as the fastest laps were coming at the end. Tomorrow will be a great challenge and we need to have a good result.”
Sunday will see Team Penske look to continue its dominant form at the Edmonton City Centre Airport. In 11 combined starts on the temporary street circuit, Team Penske drivers have combined for two wins, six podiums, eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.