Briscoe recorded a record four-lap time of 1:26.7966 seconds - and average of 168.394 mph - around the historic oval in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda shortly before his teammate, Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, crashed during his qualifying run.
The effort put Briscoe, who started second at Indy and led his first laps in the race before being forced to pit late in the 500, 0.14 seconds ahead of Saturday's next-fastest qualifier, Graham Rahal. Briscoe posted his first IndyCar Series win when he captured the checkered flag at the Milwaukee race last year, giving Roger Penske his 300th all-time victory as a car owner.
"I came into this race last year not having had good experiences with this place, so getting the win was awesome," Briscoe said. "I learned a lot from my race last year. I didn't qualify very well. My car has been a lot better in qualifying this year, so hopefully we can replicate a good race setup as well."
Castroneves says he was pressing hard when the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda spun early in his qualifying run. "I was just going for it," he said. "Sometimes you've just got to try. The car snapped a little bit. I thought I had saved it, but then it just slid and brushed the wall, and unfortunately that was the end of qualifying."
Briscoe's four-lap run broke the track record of 1:26.9591 set last year by Marco Andretti. It was the fifth pole of Briscoe's career and his first since starting first at Chicagoland Speedway last September.
"We won from 11th last year, so hopefully starting up front can keep me away from the chaos that always happens the first couple of laps," Briscoe said.
Castroneves, who stands second in the IndyCar Series point standings despite missing the season opener at St. Petersburg, will attempt to advance through the field from his 20th starting position when the race begins Sunday shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET.
"It's a shame," said Castroneves, still celebrating his third Indy 500 win. "The car didn't seem bad but when you're going for it, sometimes these things can happen. We're just going to try to have good pit stops and score some points. We have a good chance in the championship and we can't just give it away."
But Briscoe, who won the IndyCar Series season opener at St. Petersburg and stands third in points, is the one in the spotlight after leading qualifying at Milwaukee's tricky flat oval. "We talk about confidence a lot, and it does help," Briscoe said. "But confidence comes from experience. They go together."
WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Qualifying Saturday for the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series event on the 1-mile The Milwaukee Mile, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:
1. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 168.394
2. (02) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 168.117
3. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 167.793
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 167.089
5. (5) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 166.791
6. (27) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 166.139
7. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 165.168
8. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 164.706
9. (2) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 164.671
10. (23) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 163.310
11. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 162.187
12. (06) Robert Doornbos, Dallara-Honda, 161.657
13. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 161.531
14. (4) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 161.433
15. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 161.411
16. (14) Paul Tracy, Dallara-Honda, 160.798
17. (13) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 160.744
18. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 160.381
19. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 160.079
20. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, no speed