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Team Penske Qualifies Inside the Top Six at St. Petersburg

April 5, 2009

Photo courtesy of IMS Photo



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Team Penske put itself in solid position for victory Saturday with two strong qualifying performances at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Ryan Briscoe will start fourth in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda while teammate Will Power will start sixth in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Both drivers made it to the final qualifying session and flirted with the pole position but will start in the second and third rows.

"Qualifying in the Firestone Fast Six is always an accomplishment," Briscoe said. "We'll see if we can keep moving forward tomorrow in the race. It's going to be tough."

Briscoe was clocked at 1:02.5699, while Power turned a lap at 1:02.7368. Power said a few overnight adjustments could help him improve.

"We need to work on the car a little bit more, but we know we have a good car and a good team," Power said. "I'd love to be on the podium tomorrow."

The timing bodes well for Team Penske. Briscoe won on the streets of Surfers Paradise in his native Australia in the season-ending non-points event, the team hopes to begin the 2009 season with positive results Sunday.

He and the team will be tested by the IndyCar Series' new rules regarding tires. Each team will have at least one set of alternate, soft-compound red tires that has to be used during Sunday's race. The team had its first experience with the strategy created by the new rules during Saturday's qualifying session, in which each car had two sets of red Firestones at its disposal.

"We all got a taste of it today," Briscoe said,. "It seems like it had a little bit more grip, but in the Fast Six, some went slower on it."

Sunday's race begins shortly after 2 p.m. ET and will be televised live on the Versus network.