INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 19, 2012) – Ryan Briscoe won the pole position for the 96th Indianapolis 500 Saturday, leading a charge that ended with all three Team Penske drivers qualifying for the first two rows for “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Briscoe recorded a four-lap average of 226.484 mph in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, then held off several challenges from competitors and his teammates to secure his first Indy 500 pole and 13th of his IZOD IndyCar Series career. It also extended Team Penske’s record to a remarkable 17 poles won at Indianapolis.
“It’s the preparation and the experience of this team,” said Briscoe, who also won the pole at Long Beach this season. “It all adds up – all of these guys with all of this experience. Roger’s experience, Helio’s experience, Rick Mears’ experience, all of our mechanics’ experience – it all adds up. It all helps us once we get here to Indy. We don’t get ahead of ourselves. We don’t get overconfident. We just keep working hard. It all starts with experience.”
The celebration of Saturday’s result included the entire team, which saw all of its cars qualify among the first six starters for the storied race. Will Power will start fifth after he posted four-lap average speed of 225.422 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. He will be joined on the second row by three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves who will start sixth after a four-lap run of 225.172 mph in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
All three Team Penske drivers qualified for the Fast Nine shootout for the pole with their strong qualifying runs earlier in the day. Chevrolet powered cars accounted for eight of the top nine qualifying positions. Both Power and Castroneves took a shot at improving their positions in the pole shootout but both waved off their attempts.
“It was strange to me,” said Power. “Our speed really died there at the end, but I was very comfortable in the Verizon car. This place is really wind sensitive and temperature sensitive. I said this morning that sixth would be about the best I could get, so I’m very happy with this.”
Castroneves, who has won the Indy 500 pole position four times, said he tried as hard as he could during a run with 14 minutes remaining in the Fast Nine final session, but the 224.770 mph first lap forced him to wave off the attempt.
“I really pushed, man,” said Castroneves. “I’m happy for Ryan and happy for the team. I feel like we all helped. We shared all of our information. You’ll never understand this place. The minute you think you understand it, it will get you. I’m happy. We can win the race from sixth in the Shell Pennzoil car.”
Saturday saw many accomplishments for both Briscoe and Team Penske. With the result, Briscoe became the first Australian-born Indy 500 polewinner. His first Indy pole win added to Team Penske’s 17 poles by 11 different drivers – both of which are Indy 500 records.
“Everyone at Team Penske has worked so hard,” said Briscoe. “Chevrolet, man, they gave us the horsepower. I'm really proud of them and IZOD.”
The team has now won the pole in 25 of the last 39 IZOD IndyCar Series races, including all five this season.
“We work so hard with each other and (help) each other,” said Briscoe. “The teamwork is how we get to the front. We share everything among each other, and I think that’s why this team is so consistently fast here. Everything is totally transparent at Team Penske, and it always has been.”
Briscoe has two victories in the 12 times he has started from the pole, the last of which came at Chicagoland Speedway in 2010. A win next Sunday would mark his first Indianapolis 500 victory and a record 16th win for Team Penske.
“It’s good knowing my name will go down in history at the Indianapolis 500,” added Briscoe. “It’s something that will be here forever. This race is so important and so big. A pole win here is tremendous. It’s a great feeling.”