Watkins Glen: Series qualifying report

BRISCOE WINS PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Saturday, July 5, 2008 - Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe survived three rounds of knockout qualifications to win his first PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award in the...

BRISCOE WINS PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE AT WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Saturday, July 5, 2008 - Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe survived three rounds of knockout qualifications to win his first PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award in the IndyCar Series since 2005.

Briscoe survived the unique qualifying format that narrows the field from 26 to 12 to six. In the Firestone Fast Six session, Briscoe surpassed Justin Wilson in the final minute of the 10-minute session with a lap at 1 minute, 29.3456 seconds, 135.787 mph.

"It came down to the last lap," Briscoe said. "The team was telling me on the radio how we were progressing through the lap. There were one or two quicker lap times by other drivers, then all of the sudden they said, ‘You're P2. P1 is a 1:29:38.' I knew I had to pull it all together. I'm really happy for Team Penske and all the effort they've put in to getting the car ready. It was a great last lap, and it's great to be on the front row with Justin Wilson. After seeing how this race can play out, it's a big help to start on the pole."

The pole is the fourth in a row for Team Penske at Watkins Glen. Helio Castroneves, who won the previous three poles, had mechanical difficulties during the first qualifying segment and did not turn a lap. He will start a career-worst 26th.

Wilson qualified a career-best second, while Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified a career-best third.

Scott Dixon, who will attempt to win a record-setting fourth consecutive race at Watkins Glen, will start fourth for the third time at the 11-turn, 3.37-mile circuit.

Oriol Servia and Tony Kanaan round out the first six starting positions for the 60-lap Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen.

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Izod is celebrating its new affiliation as the official apparel company of the IndyCar Series by debuting a 60' x 80' billboard of Rahal Letterman Racing driver Ryan Hunter-Reay above Times Square in New York this week. The billboard, located at 42nd Street and Broadway, stands above the ESPNZone and features Hunter-Reay, who will serve as an IZOD representative as part of the league's multi-year partnership with IZOD, and the July IndyCar Series schedule with television tune-in information. The billboard will remain up throughout the month of July.

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As the IndyCar Series heads into the second-half of its season, first-half races showed ratings increases in six of nine races. Ratings are up across the board on ABC (+4 percent), ESPN (+61 percent) and ESPN2 (+42 percent). Overall, viewership is up 17 percent season to date compared to 2007.

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PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE NOTES:

* Ryan Briscoe wins the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone. This is Briscoe's first pole of the season and the second of his career. He also won the pole at Infineon in 2005. Briscoe's best start this season was third at Homestead-Miami, Indianapolis and Texas.

* This is Team Penske's 36th pole in the IndyCar Series and its first this season.

* Justin Wilson qualified second, his career-best starting position. He qualified third at St. Petersburg.

* Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified third, his career-best starting position  .
He qualified fifth at Belle Isle last year                             .

* Scott Dixon qualified fourth, the third time he will start fourth at Watkins Glen in four races.

* Oriol Servia qualified a career-best fifth. His previous best was seventh at St. Petersburg.

* Tony Kanaan is the only driver to participate in all 12 Firestone Fast Six sessions in IndyCar Series history. Helio Castroneves failed to participate in the Firestone Fast Six for the first time.

* Helio Castroneves, a three-time pole winner at Watkins Glen, will start 26th, his worst starting position in 107 career starts. His previous worst was 21st at Chicagoland in 2002.

* Darren Manning qualified a season-best eighth. His previous best was 11th at St. Petersburg. He last started eighth last season at Chicagoland.

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PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE QUOTES:

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, first): "It came down to the last lap. The team was telling me on the radio how we were progressing through the lap. There were one or two quicker lap times by other drivers, then all of the sudden they said, 'You're P2. P1 is a 1:29:38.' I knew I had to pull it all together. I'm really happy for Team Penske and all the effort they've put in to getting the car ready. It was a great last lap, and it's great to be on the front row with Justin Wilson. After seeing how this race can play out, it's a big help to start on the pole."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, second): "To come back in the pits, get out of the car, see the timing, go from first to second by a couple of hundredths, that's quite frustrating. But at the same time, I'm very pleased with the performance we had in qualifying and we had this weekend, considering we came straight to this track completely blind. We haven't tested here. We haven't done any running. We still haven't tested on a road course. I think the team's done a fantastic job. I'm just very excited at being able to challenge for the pole position. My car was working really well. There was a couple of times on the last lap where I knew I had to pull something out. I think three times I thought I'd put it in the wall. But fortunately the McDonald's car was gripping well, hanging on. I was just able to get back on the power. Closed my eyes on a few of the exits."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, third): "We changed the car a lot overnight to today, and it was a massive improvement. We just went with what works with me in the car rather than going with the team's older data. We went with it, and it went great. We made the car better and better over the sessions. We kind of snuck in there. We were sixth in the first one, sixth in the second one. And like Scott (Dixon) was saying, it's really long. By the last lap, on that last qualifying session, you're on the ragged edge, just desperate for every half a tenth (of a second). It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it today."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): "It's a long qualifying session. I guess in the end it didn't work out too bad for us. We struggled in the first session. I just had no front grip. I couldn't turn the car. The second session wasn't too bad. And then our last one there in Q3, or whatever we want to call it, the gearbox kept locking up so we had to go to manual mode, which was a bit of a pain. I think twice it stopped. Actually I tried going back to auto again. That was one of the things that we had out there. But ultimately I think the car's pretty decent. I think we had a little bit more in it. I don't know if we had enough for pole. Those guys were pretty quick out there. But I still believe we got a pretty good car for the race."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, fifth): "I was very happy to make the Firestone Fast Six, having just missed out in St. Petersburg last time, and to have a chance to get pole. I am really happy with how we improved the KV Racing Technology car every session. I felt the car was faster than we showed because on the third lap, in Turn 1, I ran wide and broke something in the front wing. From there I couldn't improve, I was pushing (understeer) too much. So it was a little my fault trying to go too fast too soon. But the car was good, the team did a great job, and we still managed to be fifth."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, sixth): "It was pretty exciting for the fans and us. We're not in the position we'd like to be, but it's always good to make the top six. Up to this race it was only me and Helio (Castroneves) who had made all of them. Helio didn't make it this time, so that makes me the only one. If there's any consolation about not being on the front row, I guess that's it."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster, seventh): "I think we had a little bit more in the car. That's why the oso*fresh guys are all a bit disappointed. We did a good job, though. We're right there with the top six. It's not ideal, but we're in it and we have a very good race car."

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing, eighth): "We went from 20th in practice this morning to eighth this afternoon, so I'll take that. We made some good improvements and even went back to some stuff we ran yesterday. We risked a big change between the sessions, and the car was better again, but I just needed another run on new tires, and I think we would have had enough for the top six but the full-course yellow took away that opportunity. We're understanding the car more, so that is the most important thing we gained."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, ninth): "I think compared to Scott (Dixon), my speeds through the middle of the corner were up, but it was costing me on the exit. I was losing a little bit of time in the bus stop. The car has been really competitve and very consistent all weekend, but perhaps didn't get the most out of it during qualifying. It was just a little bit off. Everything is so close now that it probably cost me."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi National Guard, 10th): "I felt like that was about all we had in our car. We made a few changes during the qualifications to see if we could squeeze everything out of it, but we're happy with where we're starting. It would have been nice to start closer to the front, but there are a lot of great drivers and teams out here, and that makes it a bigger challenge for us. It's better for the fans too. The race car is good, and I feel like we're ready to make a run for it tomorrow."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
10:30-11 a.m. IndyCar Series warm-up
2:30 p.m. Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen pre-race
3:30 p.m. Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen (60 laps/204 miles)

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen July 6 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Sunbelt Rentals 100 on July 12 at Nashville Superspeedway. The Corning Duels will be telecast at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 10 on ESPN2 and live on www.indycar.com.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology