Briscoe Wins Chicago Pole as Team Penske Qualifies 1-2
August 28, 2009
Briscoe now leads the IndyCar Series championship standings by five points over Dario Franchitti after capturing the pole for Saturday night's race. His teammate, Helio Castroneves, will start second and still has an outside shot at the championship in fourth place with three races remaining.
Briscoe's four-lap average of 1:48.632 - 215.364 mph - in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda was less than a tenth-of-a-second faster than Castroneves' average. It marked the fourth pole for Team Penske at Chicagoland and the team's third 1-2 start this season.
"The car was solid," said Brisoce. "All four laps were really strong. We made a couple of adjustments in the car during the four laps to keep the front end under me. I could see the speed, so when I saw the first lap was a little quicker than the pole time, I just knew I had to keep doing the same thing. I was able to do that. It was a pretty smooth run."
Perhaps even more important than starting up front was the point earned. In a tight championship battle that has seen the lead change hands 13 times in 14 races this season, Briscoe knows he can ill afford to leave anything on the table if he wants to secure his first series title.
"It's important for the point," said Briscoe. "As far as what's going to happen in the race, it doesn't matter where you start. Helio won the race from the last position last year. It's exciting. A Team Penske front row means the team is working well. We have strong cars and hopefully we can carry that into the race. I've had a few firsts this year so hopefully I can have my first win from the pole."
Castroneves said he will be pushing for the race win on Saturday, but he will also help his teammate in the chase for the championship, the way Briscoe helped him at Chicago last season as he pursued the series crown.
"It's pretty close between the two Team Penske cars," said Castroneves. "I'm happy to be on the front row, and we'll do everything we can to get Ryan more points for the championship."
Briscoe predicted a difficult race, noting the cool conditions anticipated for the first IndyCar night race at the 1.5-mile oval.
"It's going to be a tough race," said Briscoe. "There are probably 10 or 12 cars that can win, so it should be a pretty exciting race for the fans. I think we're going to see a lot of pack racing, running two- or three-wide all night long. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble, stay in the front and bring it home in front."
Saturday's race begins at 10 p.m. ET and will be televised live by Versus.