IRL: Sears Point: Panoz qualifying report

Briscoe breaks through with Panoz for first IndyCar Series pole SONOMA, CA - Ryan Briscoe fulfilled the promise shown on Friday by taking his clearly superior ...

Briscoe breaks through with Panoz for first IndyCar Series pole

SONOMA, CA - Ryan Briscoe fulfilled the promise shown on Friday by taking his clearly superior #33 Target/Pioneer Panoz/Toyota/Firestone Indy car to the Marlboro Pole Award this afternoon. Best in single car time trials, rookie Briscoe led the top three drivers - of six total - improving on his earlier speed (107.606mph) to run the fastest lap of the session at 108.248mph.

The Australian turned eight laps total and seven in the 10-minute Fast Six Shootout. He will lead a 21-car field to the green flags tomorrow in the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix on the 2.26-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway Sears Point road course, the first natural road course contest for the Indy Racing League's premier series in its ten years of existence.

"My Panoz has been working really well since we got here and we having been making small improvements all the time," Briscoe advised. "It will be a long race tomorrow and we'll all have to pay attention to strategies as we go along." Briscoe credited consistent tire performance aiding his car's balance as he would first cool and then heat his Firestone Firehawks. "The grip was still there," he said.

For the ten minutes of additional qualifying to set the top six slots, Briscoe's team "added some front from the one-lapper and that was it. We were confident from Friday," when he was fastest, "and we knew we'd be strong."

Panoz designer Richard Wilks declared, "Ganassi's boys deserved what they earned here today with all of their hard work. They've clearly shown the value of the Panoz chassis this afternoon."

2004 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice starts sixth - the final driver in the shootout - but was unable to improve on his single-car qualifying lap of 106.594mph in the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda. "We learned a little bit in qualifying and tried some new things in the ten-minute shootout," Rice said. "In the shootout, we were running a 'top-three' time but it didn't get the car to stick well coming down the hill. With the heat we lost some grip in qualifying; it wasn't terrible but it wasn't great either."

Scott Dixon earned ninth on the grid in his #9 Target Panoz/Toyota, putting up a lap of 106.365mph yet believing his Panoz performed better in the cooler morning practice. "I had a big moment in the Carousel (turn 6) and got sideways," he said.

-panoz

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe