Watkins Glen: Series qualifying report

BRISCOE CONTINUES PENSKE DOMINATION OF WATKINS GLEN QUALIFYING WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Saturday, July 4, 2009) -- For the fifth consecutive year -- as long as the IndyCar Series has been competing at Watkins Glen International -- a Team Penske car...

BRISCOE CONTINUES PENSKE DOMINATION OF WATKINS GLEN QUALIFYING

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Saturday, July 4, 2009) -- For the fifth consecutive year -- as long as the IndyCar Series has been competing at Watkins Glen International -- a Team Penske car will start from the pole. Now Ryan Briscoe will try to capitalize and provide the team its first victory in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen.

Briscoe earned his second PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season with a track-record lap of 1 minute, 28.5970 seconds (136.935 mph) July 4 during the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six session on the 3.37-mile, 11-turn circuit.

"I'm excited for Team Penske," said Briscoe, who also started from the pole at The Glen last year.

Helio Castroneves, the pole winner in 2005-07, was bumped in the first 20-minute segment by Dan Wheldon's final lap of 1:29.6398.

"Needless to say, qualifying was a bit frustrating because the Team Penske car is better than where we qualified," said Castroneves, who will start 14th. "It took us a little longer to get up to speed than we thought it would, and we just didn't have enough time to get a fast lap in there at the end of the session. I was hoping we'd be able to get one more lap before the end, but we just didn't have the chance."

Justin Wilson, competing in the Firestone Fast Six for the third time in as many road/street circuit events this season in the No. 18 Z-Line Designs for Dale Coyne Racing, will start on the front row (1:29.3106).

Scott Dixon, who won the first three IndyCar Series races at The Glen, will share Row 2 with KV Racing Technology's Mario Moraes, who's starting in the top 10 for the fifth time (first on a street/road circuit) this season.

Graham Rahal will start fifth, and series points leader Dario Franchitti will join him on the third row. Franchitti's No. 10 Polaroid car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing spun entering Turn 11 and made rear contact with the tire barrier, creating a full-course yellow midway through the session that limited the laps.

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Internet start-up Flogs.com has signed a sponsorship agreement with IndyCar Series team Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and driver Robert Doornbos.

Flogs.com offers the largest range of digital calendars. The company was founded in 2008. In order to grow in the American market, Flogs.com has chosen the IndyCar Series and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing as carrier for their first campaign.

TOON TIMMERMANS (Founder and chairman, Flogs.com): "We are happy that we can join the successful Newman/ Haas/Lanigan Racing team at this moment. The team is gaining momentum and is knocking on victory's door. Outside this, we are proud to become a partner of Dutch superstar Robert Doornbos, the only Dutch race driver in the IndyCar Series in 2009. Flogs.com has ambitious plans, and we are convinced that this partnership will help us achieving our goals."

CARL HAAS (Founder and co-owner, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "We welcome Flogs to our sponsor family and look forward to having the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Indy car program help in growing Flogs' business in the U.S. and worldwide."

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Penske Racing announced Friday that driver Will Power will compete in five upcoming IndyCar Series races in the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda.

Power is scheduled to drive for Penske Racing at IndyCar Series events in Toronto (July 12), Edmonton (July 26), Kentucky (Aug. 1), Sonoma (Aug. 23) and Homestead-Miami (Oct. 10).

Upon joining Penske Racing before the start of the 2009 season, Power drove for the team throughout preseason testing and in three of the first four events on the IndyCar Series schedule. He produced solid results, earning a pole position, two top-five and three top-10 finishes. WILL POWER: "I am really looking forward to getting back on the track and driving for Penske Racing. I have learned so much working with everyone on the team this season, and I plan to make the most of this opportunity to drive the Penske Truck Rental car at these five upcoming races and help the team however I can."

ROGER PENSKE: "Will has done a terrific job for Penske Racing and he has earned the opportunity to compete in more races. Will is a great asset to the team, and we are excited to have him compete at these additional five races in the Penske Truck Rental Indy car."

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IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Hideki Mutoh, Mike Conway and EJ Viso joined members of the media in a flight in a U.S. Navy Blue Angels' C-130 Hercules plane nicknamed "Fat Albert" on Friday. The plane is operated by a crew consisting of U.S. Marine Corps personnel. The group took off from Elmira Corning Regional Airport and landed at Greater Binghamton Airport. The group then took off from Binghamton, performed a demonstration and flew back to Elmira Corning, flying over the Watkins Glen International circuit en route and opening the cargo hold for pictures.

SCOTT DIXON: "It was cool. I think that a lot of these events that we do are definitely not as exciting as this one. Today was definitely an eye-opener. Being a fellow pilot, I'm definitely not on the same level as these guys, but it was amazing to see what they can do with such a big plane."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "I'd love to fly the plane, but I would never even attempt to try the things they did today. They're trained professionals and the very best at what they do. They have a good time doing it, too. When they did the pre-flight check, they just have so much energy about them, and it's just infectious. I didn't know such a big plane could do such amazing things."

EJ VISO: "I think this kind of event is always great. It was good for everyone. I had so much fun. You never think what all of these guys go through and all of the teamwork that they need to do and all of the preparation they go through. Sitting in the cockpit was a lot of fun with all of the Gs those guys take in the airplane. It was pretty amazing. I was very fortunate to be in the cockpit so I could see all of them working together. They made me feel like part of the crew and asked me things. It was just amazing."

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This weekend marks the first anniversary of the Indy Racing League's partnership with the IZOD brand of the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH). IZOD is the official apparel of the IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. IZOD also sponsors 2008 Watkins Glen winner and 2008 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay.

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Scott Dixon earned the 19th victory of his IndyCar Series career June 27 at Richmond International Raceway, tying him with Sam Hornish Jr. for the series record. It wouldn't be surprising if Dixon set the series record with a victory Sunday in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen. He won this event three consecutive years from 2005-08.

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Scott Dixon's wife, Emma, was in the pits at an IndyCar Series event Saturday night, June 27 at Richmond, Va., for the last time until later this season. Emma Dixon is remaining at the Dixon's home in Indianapolis, preparing to give birth to the couple's first child in the next three weeks.

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This is the first race Vitor Meira has attended since suffering two broken lower vertebrae during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24. Meira is wearing a torso brace in lieu of surgery while recuperating and rehabilitating.

VITOR MEIRA: "Watching here is better than watching from my couch, but I'm working to get ready for the best seat in the house, which is the race car. It's good to be back to see all my friends in the League and to hang out with A.J. (Foyt), Larry (Foyt) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and all the guys on the ABC Supply team."

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PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

•Ryan Briscoe earned his second PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season in the No. 6 Team Penske car. His other pole came at Milwaukee, on an oval. Briscoe's last pole on a road/street course came in 2008 at Edmonton.

•Ryan Briscoe earned his sixth career IndyCar Series pole.

•This is Ryan Briscoe's second consecutive pole at the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen.

•Ryan Briscoe set an event qualifying record of 1:28.5970. The previous record was 1:29.1919 by Helio Castroneves in 2007.

•Team Penske has started from the pole at Watkins Glen every year of this event, with Helio Castroneves from 2005-07 and Ryan Briscoe in 2008-09.

•This is the 45th IndyCar Series pole for Team Penske/Penske Racing.

•Justin Wilson will start second, tying a season best set at St. Petersburg.

•Five teams had drivers earn spots in the Firestone Fast Six. Target Chip Ganassi Racing had two drivers, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.

•Scott Dixon qualified third, his best effort on a street/road course this season. He qualified eighth at St. Petersburg, sixth at Long Beach. •Scott Dixon has qualified eighth or better for all nine races this season.

•Mario Moraes qualified fourth, a career best. His previous best was fifth this year at Milwaukee, on an oval. His previous career best on a street/road course was 10th in 2008 at Edmonton.

•Graham Rahal qualified fifth. He has qualified in the top seven for all three street/road course events this season -- on pole at St. Petersburg and seventh at Long Beach.

•Dario Franchitti qualified sixth. He had qualified in the top six for all three street/road course events this season -- fifth at St. Petersburg and second at Long Beach.

•Dario Franchitti has qualified in the top eight for eight of the nine races this season. His only start outside of the top eight was 20th at Kansas.

•Helio Castroneves will start 14th at this event, the second consecutive year he will start outside of the top 10 after winning three consecutive poles from 2005-07. Castroneves started 26th for this race last year after a mechanical problem during qualifying.

•Rookie Mike Conway qualified seventh, a career best. His previous best was 11th on the ovals at Milwaukee and Richmond.

•Danica Patrick qualified eighth, her best qualifying position on a street/road course this season. Her previous best was 15th at St. Petersburg.

•Richard Antinucci qualified 20th for his IndyCar Series debut.

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CAMPING WORLD GRAND PRIX AT THE GLEN POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, pole): "I'm excited for Team Penske. I love this place. I came in after (qualifying session) 2 and had the run on the new red tire, then posted the 28.1 (lap of 1:28.1322). I haven't had this much fun in so long. It's unbelievable the speeds you can carry through the turns out there today. The balance of the car has been great. I'm sorry that the final session ended the way it did with Dario (Franchitti) in the wall. Hopefully we can follow through and have a good race tomorrow."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Z-Line Designs, second): (Would the results have been different with the full 10 minutes of green-flag laps?): "I'm not sure. I don't know if we had enough to pass Ryan (Briscoe). He was always doing a great job today. I'd like to think we could have got there, especially since he was on used tires and we were on a new set, but it's just how it goes. I'm very pleased. Everyone at Dale Coyne Racing has done a great job. These guys here have worked hard to get here. We tested, and it's always a flat-out mad rush, so I've got to thank them and everyone at Z-Line Designs. Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day."

(How long will your sticker alternate tires last Sunday?): "I'm pretty confident they'll last, but I don't know. We'll see how things develop. It's nice to have one more set than most people. We'll see if we can use that to our advantage and make sure we have a good strong race. It's going to be a case of not making any mistakes."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): "I think the No. 9 car seems to race better than we qualify, and that's definitely been the tale today. We kind of hit on a setup later in the afternoon in the last few practices, and I think we're getting pretty close now. (Ryan) Briscoe in the Penske car is certainly quick, and it's going to be tough to beat him. Of course, it was like that last year, but we were able to come through in the race. It was unfortunate for Dario (Franchitti) with that crash, because now he'll start sixth, but I think he could have been on the pole. But both Team Target cars are in the top six, and we can win from there."

MARIO MORAES (No. 5 KV Racing Technology/Votorantim, fourth): "The KV Racing Technology team did a great job setting the car up for qualifying today. It really shows that the test we did here two weeks ago paid off, and I just hope that all of our hard work pays off for the race tomorrow."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, fifth): "It's a physical place, and to run all those laps it gets pretty tiring. Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough to make it to that top spot. I hoped when Dario (Franchitti) crashed that would be the end of the session because I thought third would be as good as we were going to get. We're close, and tomorrow is looking pretty good."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Polaroid, sixth): "Qualifying is always fun here; it really physically tests you those three sessions if you make it to the Fast Six. You're really hanging it out there, and that's what I did in the Fast Six. I knew I had a guaranteed top six and the Polaroid car felt really good, so I just pushed hard and I got a little loose on the entry to that last corner, and it just bit me. There's so much grip in those Firestone reds (tires) and you have to take advantage of it, and that's what I was trying to do."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, eighth): "I think we could have gotten a little more out of the Boost Mobile/Motorola car. The last lap was our quickest, but we had gained some understeer by then. If the car had been able to stay more consistent, we definitely could have started higher on the grid. There are so many good drivers this year; the field is super-competitive, so to be eighth is still good. This is the highest start I've had on a road course this year, so I think we can still pull out a strong finish."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7 a.m. Garages open
9:30-10 a.m. IndyCar Series practice
12:45 p.m. IndyCar Series pre-race ceremonies
1:30 p.m. Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen race (60 laps)

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Robert Doornbos , Ryan Briscoe , Richard Antinucci , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Will Power , Mario Moraes , Hideki Mutoh , Dale Coyne , EJ Viso , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , Dale Coyne Racing , Team Penske