Penske Racing Ready for Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

May 8, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - If practice is any indication, Penske Racing expects to be right in the middle of the battle Saturday for the pole position for the 93rd Indianapolis 500.

The team's three cars have been fast throughout practice leading up to the pole qualifying session, including Friday's practice session, in which Penske Racing's Ryan Briscoe was fastest, Helio Castroneves was second-fastest and Will Power was seventh-fastest.

All three Penske Racing entries should contend for top starting positions for the 93rd Indy 500. Qualifying is scheduled to begin Saturday at noon ET following a two-hour practice session Saturday morning. All six hours of pole qualifying will be televised live on Versus.

Briscoe recorded a lap of 39.8263 seconds -- 225.981 mph -- in the No. 6 Penske Racing Dallara/Honda, the fastest of Friday's six-hour session. Helio Castroneves was second-fastest in the No. 3 Penske Racing Dallara/Honda with a lap of 39.9223 seconds -- 225.438 mph. Will Power was seventh-best in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dallara/Honda at 40.0733 seconds -- 224.588 mph.

Briscoe said the team is focused on getting the car ready to run for the No. 1 starting position.

"The first week of practice has been all about getting the balance into the car, getting it tuned in, and then by the end of the week feeling confident enough to start trimming out and getting ready for qualifying," Briscoe explained. "By Saturday, we're already going for pole. Most importantly, if you can't get the pole, you need to try to at least get qualified on that first day so you can start working on race preparation."

Penske Racing knows all about race preparation. Roger Penske's team has won the Indianapolis 500 a record 14 times, including two by Castroneves, one of the favorites to win the pole.

"Just to be here again in Indianapolis is a dream come true," Castroneves said. "It's much more special this year. I appreciate it so much more, the fans especially. I feel welcome, as always. The Penske boys did a super job. Qualifying is four laps, not only about one lap, so you're going to see a lot of people thinking they have the pole positions, but on the last lap it might not be the pole position. Saturday is going to be very exciting."

Power, competing in his second Indy 500, said he's approaching the race with patience. " We worked away it, and I think we found a good balance with the car. We were patient with how we approached things today, and I know I'll be able to push it when I need to for qualifying."

The top 11 positions on the 33-car starting grid will be determined by Saturday's qualifying. Once 11 positions are filled, drivers will begin to bump one another out of the top 11.