Fourth lap proves key to Briscoe's Indy 500 Pole

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

An interview with: Ryan Briscoe

THE MODERATOR: Not sure your own teammates saw this coming, no discredit to you, but they didn't see it and here you are.

Pole winner Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske Chevrolet
Pole winner Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

RYAN BRISCOE: I don't know how many times I've been here and I've been in both those seats before that we have rolled out feeling good and next thing, Helio goes out and goes a mile an hour quicker than everybody. I'm just glad it was my turn.

Q. What's it like when you go out and it's your teammate that can knock you out of the top spot?

RYAN BRISCOE: It's usually like that. It's usually like that and we prepare the cars so evenly and we always know we are going to head into pole day or race day going up against each other. It's just part of the game, but what we do is work so hard with each other and help each other throughout all of the practice sessions so that we make that possible.

Because we want to be racing each other for the front, not for mid pack, and I think the team work is how we get to the front. We have been working really hard together throughout all the practice sessions on race setup. And qualifying is a bit of a solo deal, but we share all the information.

We talk about how the car feels and how the drop off is with the tires and all of that. It's totally transparent at Team Penske and always has been. I think that's what Roger and Tim really pride themselves on.

Q. In many ways, winning the pole for the Indy 500 is going to be a lot more exposure than winning another IndyCar Series race. Talk about what you have coming up ahead of you. You're going to be the face of the race leading into next Sunday?

RYAN BRISCOE: Well, I mean, I've never done so much race work going into a qualifying weekend. I felt Thursday night, like we had done really, really good work on our race cars. We are going to do a bit more of that tomorrow.

But I feel like most of the focus has been on the race car. A week ago, I don't think we thought we were going to have a shot at the pole. And you know, we have just worked so hard, we have gotten the car a lot more consistent. Chevy has done an awesome job. I think this extra boost has certainly favored the Chevrolet cars and we took advantage of it.

Q. From an exposure standpoint, you're going to get a lot of attention this week being the Indy 500 pole.

RYAN BRISCOE: Sounds good.

Q. Talk about what that is like, Helio has experienced it four times, and now you get a chance to experience it.

RYAN BRISCOE: I'm just going to take it. We've got a few days off, so you know, the exposure is good. Certainly the focus is the race, and I'm sure I'll have no problem getting my priorities in line.

Q. All week long your team was a little bit off the pace. The whole team was a couple mile an hour off of where the Andrettis, in particular, were running. About four o'clock yesterday afternoon, you guys went out and gained about three miles an hour, just like that. Did you find something yesterday afternoon?

RYAN BRISCOE: I don't know if I ever felt that way to be honest. I think we have been making lots of small gains but there was nothing dramatic that gave us three mile an hour. Definitely when we had the increase in boost that everybody got, that was a huge gain.

But we have not been out there all week searching for the big tows and putting the big lap times on the board although it did happen, Helio was second at the end of one of the days and we were second I think at the end of yesterday maybe.

But yeah, I mean, it's been a work in progress, and here it's all about fine tuning. You're not doing anything big.

Q. How confident do you feel with all of the Chevys up front? I know you benefitted today with the extra boost, but no failures that I know of. You've just been really superior and it's been the superior program this month, and did you expect that in all of the hearing, wrangling that went on?

RYAN BRISCOE: We have not been happy about the outcome of the Turbogate. Seemed like a bit of an unfair rule change but Chevy has worked hard.

You know, we just kept our heads down. I can't tell you how proud I am to run with the bow tie here. The history of Chevrolet and their involvement, I mean, it's just they are there, every step of the way. They continually are giving us updates and they just don't stop working.

So you know, we are extremely happy to have Chevrolet engines. They will certainly, they are certainly the motor to have today, and they have been, I believe, all year long. We are going to work hard to keep bringing those wins home for them.

Q. With all of the changes in the car and everything else in the end, it's still Team Penske. What sets this team apart? What sets Roger apart from everybody else?

RYAN BRISCOE: Well, I mean, it's the preparation. It's definitely the preparation. But I think it's the experience. Over 600 years of experience on the team that's a quote from Roger. I haven't done that tally.

But it adds up. All of these guys with all of this experience, and Roger's own experience; Helio's experience, Rick Mears' experience, all of these guys, all of our mechanics are so experienced. I think that helps us once we get here to do things methodically, not get ahead of ourselves, never get overconfident and just keep working hard.

But it all starts with the preparation.

Q. Down deep inside what does this pole today really mean for you as a person? I know it means a lot for the team but just talk about what it means to you for your first pole here at Indianapolis?

RYAN BRISCOE: It's hard not to just be thinking about a starting position for the race. But I guess it's an award where my name will go down forever as something I've won here at the Indy 500.

You know, this race is just so important; it's so big, and I think even just a pole win here is remembered. So it's a great feeling. They were four really good laps and I was proud of myself and the team for the setup they gave me today. They were really consistent. It was lap four that got me the pole today. It wasn't the outright speed that we had. It was the consistency we had over four laps.

It's just a great feeling. 17 poles for Roger here at the Indy 500 and to have my name on the list of drivers that have done that for him, it's a great feeling.

Q. When you think of all the names that have won races and poles here and now Ryan Briscoe is part of that, that has to really be something that you really thought about when you joined this team was something that you would like to do, but now you've actually done that.

RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, it's great. It's good. Thank you. I don't know what else you want me to say, I've sort of talked about it.

Q. You talked about how you're all for one, one for all, but how seriously would you have felt if one of your own teammates knocked you off the pole?

RYAN BRISCOE: Well, wouldn't have been the first time, would it. So, hey, it's just part of the game, and as I said before, you know, we work together. We push each other hard all the time, and it's great that we are often competing against each other all the time, whether it's here or the road courses or any track. We always seem to be going head to head for the pole and obviously this one means more than any of the others. But it would have been nice to be sitting here with both my teammates on the front row with me. But we have got three cars in the front two rows and that's a massive accomplishment.

Q. Probably would have been more dramatic to go out as the last guy and knock somebody else off, but I take it you were fairly comfortable just sitting in the car sweating while it happened?

RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, it was hot. But I was ready to go. If we had to go, I was ready to go, and you know, I felt like we could have at least done the same again. We weren't going to make any changes, but I was ready. I was focused and that was the big thing just sitting in there for an hour and a half, just trying to keep focused and trying to keep cool.

It looked like second run on the motors, they might have been losing a bit of horsepower, and so I was a little bit more comfortable having seen the Andretti cars go through the second time and not better their speeds. It made me a little bit more comfortable.

But Hunter-Reay, he had a good run that last run and I was ready gloves on, ready to go.

Q. Can you even fathom how small, was it three 1,000s of a second is?

RYAN BRISCOE: Well, I think that's a lesser margin than I beat Dixon to win Chicago a few years ago and that was like crossing the line side by side. That's how close it was, if you had the ghost car out there, we would have been crossing the line side by side. A hell of an accomplishment by Hinchcliffe. He did a great job and he may have just burnt up his tires a bit much on the warm up lap.

THE MODERATOR: Side bar note. His pole speed, the difference of 23 thousandths of a second for four laps, the ten miles, is 9.168 inches. So over the 10 mile run, 9.168 inches.

RYAN BRISCOE: I told him he should have ducked his head coming down the straight.

Q. The two guys starting to your right are going to be pretty formidable foes. Talk about how Andretti has stepped themselves up and even Roger looks at them as being the favorites; that they are the guys you've got to beat?

RYAN BRISCOE: You know Andretti, they are always strong here in the race. And the surprise was how good they were in qualifying, because normally they are a little bit off in qualifying, but really bring it in the race.

They have been strong in race runs. I feel like we have been just as strong, though, and I feel like there are a lot of cars out there that have been strong. I think it's going to be a pretty wild race. I think nobody is going to be able to pull away. There's going to be a lot of passing. It's going to be a pretty grueling 500 mile race, and it's going to be hard to predict a winner until you see them come out of turn four and maybe even then, you won't know it.

So it's going to be a tough race. I think it's going to be all about executing on the day, not making mistakes, having good pit stops and keeping your nose clean.

RYAN BRISCOE: First of all, this place is never easier. You can say less difficult maybe. But certainly, you always have to keep your mind focused on this place. You can never think, just because you are a mile an hour slower that it doesn't make a difference. You know, when something goes wrong here, it goes wrong big.

But in the end of the day, I felt that all of the runs that I did, I tried everything I could.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rick Mears , Ryan Briscoe
Teams Team Penske
Tags briscoe, chevrolet, penske