BRISCOE WINS POLE AT LONG BEACH AS TEAM PENSKE TAKES THE TOP TWO TIMES IN QUALIFYING
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 14, 2012) – Team Penske swept the front row for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday, but due to an INDYCAR ruling on Thursday they won’t be able to start there.
Ryan Briscoe won a back and forth battle with teammate Will Power around the 12-turn, 1.968 mile street course to take the pole position Saturday afternoon with a lap of 68.6089 seconds. However, the previously announced penalty involving all Chevrolet entries will cause Briscoe to be docked 10 positions and the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet will start 11th on Sunday.
Will Power had the second-fastest lap during the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session at 68.7073 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Helio Castroneves was eighth-fastest after a lap of 1:09.0846 in the No. 3 Automobile Club of Southern California car.
Briscoe received the bonus point and prize money for winning the pole and after he finished second from a 12th place start at Long Beach in 2011, he is still very optimistic about his chances to win the race tomorrow.
“This pole position means a lot,” said Briscoe. “Now we have to come through the field and see if we can get a win on Sunday. We’re trying to reward the guys for all their hard work this season. It’s been absolutely flat-out with this new car and new Chevy engine. I’m so proud of all the work everybody has done. I just want to go out and drive the wheels off the thing.”
Earlier this week, Chevrolet announced that it would change the engines in all of its entries before the Long Beach event following a problem discovered in the engine during testing last week at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. According IZOD IndyCar Series rules, all cars with unapproved engine changes will be docked 10 positions after qualifying.
As a result, Briscoe will start 11th, Power 12th, and Castroneves 18th.
"We overcame what happened with the incident this morning in the No. 3 Auto Club machine with a lot of hard work,” said Castroneves. “Right now, sitting eighth after qualifying plus the penalty, gives us plenty of room for strategy tomorrow. Hopefully my great Team Penske crew will make things happen and we can make up some spots on the track for a win."
The pole was the third in three races for Team Penske and this marks the second time this season that Penske teammates swept the top-two qualifying times after Power and Briscoe qualified 1-2 at St. Petersburg. Team Penske, which has won the first two races of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, has already proven in can claim victory when starting from outside the top five as Power won from the ninth starting spot in the most recent race at Barber Motorsports Park.
“Last year we started 12th, and through strategy we ended up leading a lot of laps in the race. So we're going to look at all of that,” said Briscoe. “It's going to be tough - it's a really hard track to pass on, so we're going to have to do our best and see what we can do to get to the front."
Briscoe added it was good to win his first pole since he topped qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway in 2010, especially with Hitachi on board as a sponsor in just their second race with the team. “This is a great qualifying result for Hitachi. They’ve got a lot of guests here this weekend and it’s awesome to have them on board,” added Briscoe.