INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 10, 2008) – They didn’t get the pole position, but Team Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves did put themselves in prime position to win the 2008 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25. Briscoe will start third and Castroneves fourth in the 92nd running of the famous race, which Roger Penske’s team has won a record 14 times.
“This is only the pole position,” said Castroneves, who won the race in 2001 and 2002. “The race is the big thing. That's what we're really focused on.”
Both Penske drivers held strong positions on the grid throughout the course of Saturday’s Pole Day qualifying session - with Briscoe even holding the pole position for a few minutes - before being surpassed by Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.
“There are days when you realize it’s better to be smart and safe than brave and stupid,” Castroneves said. “We got to the point where there just wasn’t much we could do.”
Castroneves, who pulled out of line early in Saturday’s qualifying session, continued to practice during the mid-afternoon lull, then returned for a qualifying run of 225.733 mph, good for second behind Wheldon at the time. Briscoe followed with his second attempt of the day, a 226.080 mph run that knocked Wheldon from the No. 1 spot. Next out was Dixon, who went 226.366 mph and regained the pole. “I turned around, and Dixon was taking it away from me,” Briscoe said.
Briscoe eventually settled for third - the outside front-row starting position in the 33-car field when the race begins May 25. Castroneves will start in the fourth position, inside the second row. “I had a really good run,” Briscoe said. “The car was balanced really well for the downforce level we trimmed out to, and it was a solid gain, for sure. We were on the edge, and it was exciting. I’m really happy to be in the thick of it. This is unbelievable.”
This will be Team Penske’s 35th Indy 500, a record.
The 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25, 2008, airing on the ABC television network. Coverage begins at noon ET.
The Top 11 starters for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500: (name/number/team, four lap miles-per-hour average, all cars Dallara/Hondas)
1) Scott Dixon, No. 9, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 226.366 mph
2) Dan Wheldon, No. 10, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 226.110
3) Ryan Briscoe, No. 6, Team Penske, 226.080
4) Helio Castroneves, No. 3, Team Penske 225.733
5) Danica Patrick, No. 7, Andretti Green Racing, 225.197
6) Tony Kanaan, No. 11, Andretti Green Racing, 224.794
7) Marco Andretti, No. 26, Andretti Green Racing, 224.417
8) Vitor Meira, No. 4T, Panther Racing, 224.346
9) Hideki Mutoh, No. 27, Andretti Green Racing, 223.887
10) Ed Carpenter, No. 20, Vision Racing, 223.835
11) Tomas Scheckter, No. 12, Luczo Dragon Racing, 223.496