Team Penske Secures Two Of Top Four Starting Spots For Sunday’s Race At Mid-Ohio
Ryan Briscoe led the effort for Team Penske on Saturday by qualifying on the front row for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Teammate Will Power also turned in a solid qualifying result as he will start fourth on Sunday, while Helio Castroneves struggled with his car’s handling and qualified 15th.
In the Firestone Fast Six final qualifying round, Briscoe recorded a lap of 1:08.3359 in the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. The impressive time was second only to pole winner Scott Dixon’s lap of 1:08.0776.
The effort marked Briscoe’s second front-row starting position of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season and his third in four years at Mid-Ohio. Briscoe won the race at the classic road course in 2008 after starting second, and he finished second after starting from the pole in 2009.
“It was a very hard-fought battle out there,” said Briscoe. “This is a very physical track and it takes its toll on you. The track kept improving during qualifying and you really needed to be out there to take advantage of it. We’re feeling good starting on the front row here. The Penske Truck Rental car has been fast and we can definitely win from there. Last time we started second here, we won the race in 2008, so hopefully we can have another result like that tomorrow.”
Power was clocked at 1:08.4212 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda and will line up behind Briscoe for the start of Sunday’s 85-lap race.
“It was a good, solid result for the Verizon car,” said Power, who earned his 11th top-five starting spot in 12 races this season. “Starting in the first two rows is definitely a place we can win from. Really, we’re right where we need to be. We gave it everything we had but just didn’t quite have the car for pole today. I feel pretty good about it, though. What we have to do is be smart tomorrow, stay out of trouble and it should be a good day.”
Castroneves had issues in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental car as he posted a top lap of 1:09.436 and wasn’t able to make it out of the first qualifying session.
"It's certainly a disappointing qualifying result,” said Castroneves. “It's been tough to get a handle on the setup of the Penske Truck Rental car this weekend. The car was really loose throughout the session and we just couldn't find the grip we needed to make it to the next round of qualifying. We will continue to work on the car and make sure we are ready for the race tomorrow."
Though Team Penske saw its streak of four consecutive poles at Mid-Ohio snapped on Saturday, the team hopes to add to its successful legacy at the Lexington, Ohio circuit on Sunday. Team Penske has won the race at Mid-Ohio seven times and has posted five podium finishes at the venue in the last three years.