Briscoe's Quick Trip on Short Track Targets Third Place Start in Richmond Debut Richmond, VA. Friday, June 24th, 2005-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Ryan Briscoe came away with his best qualifying effort of his IndyCar rookie season to date,...
Briscoe's Quick Trip on Short Track
Targets Third Place Start in Richmond Debut
Richmond, VA. Friday, June 24th, 2005-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Ryan Briscoe came away with his best qualifying effort of his IndyCar rookie season to date, with a third place starting position for the Saturday night twilight SunTrust Indy Challenge on the 0.75-mile Richmond International Raceway track, the shortest oval on the schedule.
"It's just fantastic to qualify third, for me and the whole Target team," said Briscoe who was among the top four fastest drivers in every practice and qualified with a speed of 174.656 mph (15.4590 seconds). "It's our best qualifying effort of the year and it really helps boost everyone's confidence. We were pretty quick in practice and we really didn't have to make too many changes to for our qualifying run. Set up is really important here and I'm really happy with the car and the track is great fun to drive. For an oval there sure is a lot of steering to do. It's good fun and I'm enjoying it but so far I've been going around on my own. The race will be very different. It'll be a lot of hard work and the competition will be fierce but we put the #33 Target Toyota Panoz in good starting position and we'll look to move up from there. I'm looking forward to it."
The Richmond International Raceway track puts a premium on driver skill and race car handling rather that sheer horsepower, but having run a manufacturer's test day last week certainly seemed to be beneficial as the top four positions were secured by Toyota powered teams. The pole was won by Sam Hornish Jr. who will share the front row with his teammate Helio Castroneves.
Speeds were also up from the 2004 with twelve drivers besting last year's qualifying record of 171.202 mph, including Briscoe and teammate Darren Manning, but the qualifying session garnered even more excitement than expected. After a 15 minute delay for the start of the session due to an oil spill from the USAC Silver Crown practice, and concerns that the different rubber compatibility with the IndyCar Firestone tires combined with the 88 degree Fahrenheit air temperature might alter track conditions, the first seven cars in the qualifying line opted to pass up their turns. As the final car in the official qualifying order took its place in line, the race was on, with three-wide action on pit road, to get back in the line on a first come first serve basis before the one hour session came to an end.
Manning, who was to qualify 20th in line ended up going out sixth and posted a quicker time than he had all day in practice and putting himself in tenth spot on the grid for the start of Saturday night's Richmond race.
"I'm pretty happy with our run but I probably could have qualified a few positions higher and gained a tenth of a second or so if we'd gone with another gear I think," said Manning who qualified with a speed of 172.701 mph (15.6340 seconds). "The Target Toyotas handle really well on these short little tracks and with our testing here last week you can see they've really made some gains. The car set up we have is good and we were faster than in practice. This track is a favorite among drivers. It's demanding and the race is going to be a good challenge but I'm thinking the Target team will be looking really good for the race."
Scott Dixon, who had his last win at this track in 2003 on route to his IndyCar series Championship, had a tougher go of it as his team struggled with various issues throughout the day and was unable to improve the no.9 Target Toyota and settled for a starting position on the outside of row ten on the grid after qualifying 20th.
"It's just been one of those days," said Dixon who posted a speed of 167.367 mph (16.1322 seconds) "From the start, we had a lot of little things go wrong and we started second guessing ourselves. We messed around with the set up and got a little lost. This short track does suit our Target Toyotas quite a bit so with a good strategy we can definitely move our way forward pretty quickly."
Target fans can tune in to watch the SunTrust Indy Challenge on ESPN2 Live at 7:30 pm (EDT) on Saturday, June 25th. They can also listen in to the IndyCar broadcast live by IMS radio Network at 7:00 pm (EDT). The IMS Radio broadcast will also be available on XM satellite Radio Channel 152 "Extreme" and webcast on Indycar.com.