News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 20, 2012

A brisk pace at Indy: Briscoe edges Hinchcliffe for pole position

Tom Reck
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Twenty-four spots were filled for the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday with Ryan Briscoe earning the pole position for the May 27 race.

Briscoe earned the pole position with the hottest lap on a hot day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a nine-car shootout in the final 90 minutes of Pole Day.

He averaged 226.484 miles per hour with a top lap of 226.621 as he edged James Hinchcliffe with his 226.481 average to earn his 13th career pole and second of the 2012 Izod IndyCar season.

“It all starts with the preparation and consistency. I was proud of my consistency,” said Briscoe.

The Team Penske driver will be joined on the front row by Andretti Autosports teammates Hincliffe and Ryan-Hunter Reay.

The final nine spots will be filled in qualifying today starting at noon.

Briscoe was in the fifth spot following the first qualifying run of the day with his 225.078 average.

“It was a good run … for the start of a long day. The team has worked very hard on the car. It appears Chevy cars have more horsepower,” said the native of Australia after the first run.

He'll be making his seventh start in the 500 and will be starting on the front row for the third time.

“I think it is going to be a pretty wild race with lots of passing,” said Briscoe.

Penske drivers now have won all five IndyCar Series poles this season — four by Will Power — and 11 of them have won 17 poles at Indianapolis.

“It was probably one of the best runs we've had. I did not expect to be that quick,” said Power after his first run.

Hinchcliffe was the pole sitter prior to the shootout, earning the top spot with his run of 225.746.

He had been joined on the front row by Power, who was knocked off the pole by that run, and Hunter-Reay.

Team Penske has three drivers in the first two rows and five Andretti drivers are in the 24-car lineup while no Team Ganassi drivers are in the first three rows.

“Every member of the Target team is working so hard. We are just having a hard time figuring this one out,” said Dario Franchitti, who is in the 16th slot with teammates Charlie Kimball and Scott Dixon starting 14th and 15th respectively.

Following a week in which just one accident took place, that number went up on Saturday.

Bryan Clauson was the first to make contact with the wall in the first turn on the fourth lap of what had been a good qualifying run.

“I feel terrible for my guys; it is going to be a long night to get the backup ready,” said the two-time U. S. Auto Club driving champ.

Oriol Servia was one of the last drivers to make an attempt from the original qualifying order and was sidelined after making contact with the wall in the fourth turn.

Ed Carpenter made the 24-car lineup but was the first one bumped after he said he completed what he said was his worst attempt in nine years.

He was back on the track trying to get back in the lineup when he made contact with the wall in the second turn.

All three of the drivers were cleared to drive and should be among those trying to qualify today.

Pit passes — Eight cars powered by Chevrolet engines and one by Honda are in the first three rows

. . . Team Penske and Andretti Autosports both have three drivers in the first three rows and all five Andretti drivers are in the 24-car lineup.

• Briscoe will be looking for his first IndyCar Series win and his seventh in the series with his last victory coming at Texas in 2010. He is the first Australian-born driver to win a 500 pole.

• Josef Newgarden has the best starting position of the rookies. Driving for Fisher Hartman Racing, he will be in the third row in the seventh slot.