MILWAUKEE, Wis. (June 15, 2012) – Team Penske turned in a strong performance during qualifying Friday for the Milwaukee IndyFest at The Milwaukee Mile, but penalties for engine changes will cost two of the team’s three drivers while benefitting the other.
Will Power had the fastest two-lap qualifying average speed among the team’s entries, clocked at 167.361 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. That speed was good enough to rank the IZOD IndyCar Series point leader fourth-best among the 25-car field but due to an engine change and the subsequent 10-position grid penalty, he’ll start 14th. The Verizon team had to change engines after an issue in testing at Iowa Speedway earlier in the week.
“That was a good run for the No.12 Verizon Wireless team,” said Power. “Obviously we will be starting well back in the pack at 14th, but there is a bunch of other teams dealing with the same issue. We are going to try and make the most of it and have a good day tomorrow.”
Helio Castroneves had the sixth-fastest effort, a two-lap average of 166.763 mph in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet. Since Castroneves did not change engines and two cars ahead of him – including Power – did, the No. 3 car will start fourth in Saturday’s race at the historic oval.
“The No.3 Penske Truck Rental group did a great job. We are starting fourth after a good qualifying effort,” said Castroneves. “We had a very fast first lap but the second one unfortunately I pushed too much and it lowered our two-lap average. We are going to continue working hard so we have a good racecar tomorrow and hopefully head to the front.”
Ryan Briscoe, a two-time pole winner in 2012, had the ninth-best average of 166.031 mph in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. But because the team also switched engines earlier in the day and with the resulting penalty, Briscoe will line up 19th on Saturday. The 2008 race winner at The Milwaukee Mile has two career podiums at the 1.015 mile oval track.
“Not a bad qualifying session for the Hitachi machine,” said Briscoe. “We didn’t have the balance worked out 100 percent, but the race is a whole different ball game here in Milwaukee and it’s going to be a long day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and plan on being able to come through the pack to get to the front.”
In 83 previous open-wheel racing starts at Milwaukee dating back to 1972, Team Penske has recorded seven wins, 11 pole positions and 47 top-five finishes. Current Team Penske advisor Rick Mears recorded the Team’s first victory at the historic track in 1978.