Briscoe takes Indy 500 pole
Australian pips Hinchcliffe in closest session in history
By William Esler. Last Updated: May 20, 2012 10:41am
Ryan Briscoe: Celebrates his first Indy pole
Ryan Briscoe will start from pole position at next week's Indianapolis 500 after the closest qualifying fight in the history of the race.
The Penske driver set a four-lap average speed of 226.484mph around the 2.5-mile oval in Indiana during the qualifying session for the 96th running of the historic race.
It was the Australian's first pole, and the fifth time in the last seven years that a Penske driver has secured pole position.
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"This is huge man, this is unbelievable," said Briscoe. "Those four laps were so good and so consistent. Getting the pole at Indy is huge. It feels good to get my first one here.
"My name will go down forever for something that I won here at the Indy 500."
James Hinchcliffe was second fastest, completing the 10-mile qualification run just 0.0023 seconds slower at a four-lap average speed of 226.484mph.
That broke the previous record set in 1970 when Al Unser pipped Johnny Rutherford by 0.01 seconds over the four-lap run.
"Three one-thousands of a second over the course of four laps," Hinchcliffe said. "I will think long and hard about that."
Team boss Roger Penske used his experience to help secure pole for his team by sending point's leader Will Power out on track for one final run.
He wasn't quick enough to take pole, but stayed out long enough to prevent the three Andretti cars from challenging Briscoe's position atop the qualifying standings.
Chip Ganassi, who has won four straight IndyCar championships, had a nightmare day as he failed to get any of his four cars into the shootout.
"We're not where we need to be to qualify for pole," Scot Dario Franchitti said.
"My situation with the 50 car, we're not even as quick as some of the other Honda runners. There's a bit of head scratching going on. We've tried a lot of different things to make it."