IRL: Sears Point: Saturday qualifying report

BRISCOE EARNS POLE AT INFINEON RACEWAY SONOMA, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2005 --Ryan Briscoe claimed the first Marlboro Pole Award of his career, winning the pole position for the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway. The ...

BRISCOE EARNS POLE AT INFINEON RACEWAY

SONOMA, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2005 --Ryan Briscoe claimed the first Marlboro Pole Award of his career, winning the pole position for the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway.

The Australian rookie, who was fastest in single-lap qualifying on the 2.3-mile, 12-turn natural-terrain course with a lap of 107.606 mph (1 minute, 16.4913 seconds), improved his speed (108.248) during the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six session and retained his pole position in the first road-course event in IndyCar® Series history.

It was the first pole position for Target Chip Ganassi Racing since Scott Dixon won the pole at Nazareth in 2003.

The first three rows remained the same from single-lap qualifying, though second-placed Helio Castroneves (107.664) and third-placed Tony Kanaan (107.346) also improved their speeds. Tomas Enge, Sam Hornish Jr., and Buddy Rice rounded out the Firestone Fast Six.

Dario Franchitti, who had posted the fastest lap of pre-qualifying practice and in April's Open Test, spun during his qualifying lap and did not record a time. He will start 21st.

Also on Aug. 27, Marco Andretti claimed his third career pole position, winning the SWE Race Car Parts Pole Award for the Sonoma 100.

POST-MARLBORO POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, won Marlboro Pole Award): "The car wasn't exactly as we expected from the first single lap so we put a ton of front wing in. The heat caused a push. The car felt better in the 10-minute session and we went quicker, so it was great. Getting the pole is fantastic."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, qualified second): "It was a tough run and we tried really hard. The track changed a little bit from the morning to the afternoon which was a little bit to our favor. We tried something in the beginning of the top-six qualifying and it didn't work, and we had to stop right away. We used the tires up and the track was better. At the end of the day, I don't think we would have been able to catch Ryan. He did a good job. Now we look forward to the race tomorrow and hopefully will do well."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "We made a couple of changes to the Team 7-Eleven car but it didn't quite work out for us. We kept our same lap time. I was trying really hard, but I don't think we had enough to catch (Ryan) Briscoe. We might have caught Helio (Castroneves), but he was really fast. Now we have to make a good race car."

TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I'm very happy. We've made huge improvements over the weekend, and we improve every time that we go out. In qualifications, we knew everybody would be a little slower because of the heat. The Rockstar car is working very well right now. And this is the kind of track that I really like. This is going to be a very physical race, and there are some places to pass. It will be hard, but the same for everybody that will be racing with us tomorrow."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, qualified fifth): "I'm happy with our qualifying effort today, and it's great to have both Marlboro Team Penske cars starting at the front of the grid. I've always enjoyed road course racing so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. This circuit is particularly challenging with the elevation changes and blind corners, plus getting through traffic could be difficult as there aren't a lot of places to pass. We've just got to stay patient and hopefully bring home a top-five finish."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/ Firestone, qualified sixth): "We learned a little bit qualifying and tried some new things in the 10-minute shootout. I think those things will help us in the race. In the shootout, we were running a top-three time, but it didn't get the car to stick well coming down the hill. It is exciting to be back on a permanent road circuit. I haven't done that since 2001 in an open-wheel car. I raced here in 1996 in a Formula 2000 car, but it is so much different in an IndyCar Series car. I think we have a pretty consistent car for the race, and starting up in the first three rows will help. We don't have the experience as some of the other drivers in the series in the bigger cars, but we are getting more familiar with the cars after each test and race. Everyone is so close, and some of the guys have a little bit more grip overall, and that makes them better on the time sheet. In the race, it could be a little different. I think you'll see some bumping and shoving to get by, and physical conditioning will be important. You can wait and watch other drivers make mistakes. Everyone is going to fighting for the same spots on the track. It is an older track and pretty narrow. That should make for an interesting and exciting race for the fans. "

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "It was just one of those things. The qualifying effort didn't seem that bad. I don't know where the speed was. It was kind of a disappointing run really. It kills you to lose time from the practice sessions. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the car. We just weren't particularly quick today."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "I'm pretty disappointed right now. Based on practice, I thought we could expect to be a little bit quicker than what we did. I made a mistake on my lap, and that was what kept us out of the shootout. This is a fun track to run on, but a frustrating track when you're not starting in the front."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, qualified ninth): "A bit of a shame really because I had a good lap going, and the No. 9 Target Toyota was really much better than this morning. I put it sideways in The Carousel, and that's what cost me. It's definitely been a much stronger weekend for the Target team, and it should be a very exciting race. The track is very physical and challenging, and we're just hoping to get the job done tomorrow."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, qualified 10th): "I was looking forward to qualifying because we did really well in practice this morning. We were a little bit slower than we thought we would be, but the track is heating up. I probably left a couple of tenths on the track, but it is a technical track, so I am pretty happy with the run. It's refreshing for me to come and run a road course like this after so many oval track races in a row. This facility is really nice. They have done a lot of work here. It's refreshing to do something different."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 21st): "I touched the brakes and, for whatever reason, I don't know if there were bumps or whatever, I lost the back end of the ArcaEx car and that was it -- around she went. I'm confident that we can come from the back of the field, but it's going to be a lot more difficult because passing here is definitely hard. But the car is definitely fast enough, which makes it doubly frustrating that we didn't get a chance to run for the pole. I'm sure we'll come up with something and be fine tomorrow."

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). ESPN2's telecast of the Pikes Peak 100 will be shown at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 25. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Sonoma 100 on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept 1 by ESPN2.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing