Briscoe, who won last year's IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio, set an event record with a lap of 1:06.6814 around the 2.25-mile road course. Teammate Helio Castroneves will start on the inside of row three after his top lap of 1:07.1809.
It marked the seventh all-time pole for Penske Racing at Mid-Ohio and it was third consecutive pole earned for the team at the classic road course.
Briscoe said he caught a break in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda by being in the second group, which was cut short because of a late caution.
"It really came down to timing," said Briscoe. "We had the lucky group today, and we were able to save our tires for the end. The car can be a little bit better. It's tricky getting used to the conditions out there on the circuit, but overall I was pretty happy with it."
Castroneves didn't get the lap he wanted with the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, but he thinks the race might hold some surprises, just as qualifying did.
"It was interesting," said Castroneves. "We felt like there was a big difference between the (Firestone) red and black tires. In Q2, we had a faster car on reds, but we were trying not to use them too hard. Tire management was the key to being on the front row. It should be an interesting race."
Briscoe leads the IndyCar Series championship standings with just five races remaining in the 2009 season, but he said he doesn't expect to do anything differently in Sunday's race or the other four races after that - at Infineon Raceway, Chicagoland Speedway, Twin Ring Motegi and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"I don't think any of us up front are going to change what we're doing," Briscoe said. "It's been a tough battle. We just need to stay focused. That's the key. Just stay focused and keep pushing."
Following the morning warm-up session, Sunday's race is scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. ET and will be televised live by Versus.