On a track where he dominated last year after taking advantage of a different early pit strategy, Ryan Briscoe has taken the pole position for Sunday's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. The IndyCar Series championship leader adds a very valuable extra...
On a track where he dominated last year after taking advantage of a different early pit strategy, Ryan Briscoe has taken the pole position for Sunday's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. The IndyCar Series championship leader adds a very valuable extra point going into tomorrow's race.
"I think it really came down to the tire management," Briscoe said. "We were able to save tires through the first qualifying run. I got a little bit of heat in the first set of my red tires, I would have posted a fast lap on them in Q2, save a new set for the fast six."
It's Briscoe's third pole of the season and second on a road course. As in Watkins Glen, the last time Briscoe started from P1 on a circuit requiring both left and right turns, he will start alongside Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing. Briscoe nipped Wilson by merely two-hundredths of a second
"It was just fun to drive. I was really enjoying it," Wilson said. "The competition level is so high. Unfortunately, I missed it by a couple hundredths of a second and I'm pretty disappointed in that. I know where it was on the track; just got a little carried away in a couple of places."
Briscoe and Wilson each set their quick times, like the rest of the Firestone Fast Six, on the "reds", the softer alternate Firestone Firehawk tire compound. Briscoe posted a 1:06.6814 to Wilson's 1:06.7007, each bettering the previous track record of 1:06.837 set by Briscoe's teammate Helio Castroneves in 2007. Each saved a set of sticker reds by not running them in the second round of qualifying.
As could be expected the quartet of red cars from Team Penske (Briscoe and Castroneves) and Chip Ganassi Racing advanced to the final round of qualifying. Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti start third and sixth on the grid for Ganassi.
"We were consistently close to the top if not on top," Dixon admitted. "I think we got the car to do it. It's going to be tough to pass probably tomorrow. Hopefully the 'push to pass' helps a little."
The final top six: Briscoe, Wilson, Dixon, hometown hero Graham Rahal, Castroneves and Franchitti.
The fastest times were set in the second round of the session. Dixon was quickest at a 1:06.6693 with the next five separated by not even seven one-hundredths of a second. Wilson was second at 1:06.9026 and Castroneves just making the cut in sixth at 1:06.9700.
In round one, the first group was a few tenths quicker overall than the second group. There was more cloud cover as the first batch of cars took the track. Dixon was fastest overall at 1:07.1251 and each of the six that advanced was under 1:08.2. In group two, Tony Kanaan led the group at 1:07.6595.
The 12 that advanced to round two represented eight different teams, and the six that made the final Firestone Fast Six represented four different teams.
Andretti Green Racing had one of its better road course qualifying sessions of the season, with Kanaan, Hideki Mutoh, and Danica Patrick all advancing into round two. None of them made the final session, and they will start 8th, 11th and 12th respectively. Kanaan spun off at the Keyhole to end the first round but his times were still quick enough to advance.
Ryan Hunter-Reay starts seventh at a track where he scored a podium in 2003. It's the best start of the season for both "RHR" and his A.J. Foyt Enterprises team, eclipsing their previous high of 12th at Toronto. He missed the final cut, along with Kanaan, Viso, Tracy, Mutoh and Patrick.