Sunday, May 20, 2012

Briscoe Beats Hinchcliffe for Indy 500 Pole with Tightest Margin


After a week of practice, Indy 500 Pole Day for the 96th running of the great open wheel event had finally dawned on the Brickyard. Testing out the all-new Dallara DW12 race cars paired with either Chevrolet, Honda or Lotus engines, the time trials for the Memorial day Sunday Indianapolis 500 race is the most crucial laps teams and drivers will set on the racetrack so far.

Through Saturday afternoon, the first 24 spots for the 2012 Indianapolis 500 were settled as Dallara DW12 race cars took the race track for the best combined four-lap run. On a hot race track 2.5-mile race track, teams slowly began to log lap times. For Indy 500-only drivers Sebastian Saavedra, Michell Jourdain Jr and Townsend Bell, efforts of securely qualifying into the 2012 edition of the Indy 500 were realized with top-24 times around the race track for Pole Day. Last competing in an United States open wheel racing car in 2004, Michell Jourdain Jr recorded a 222.893-mile per hour average speed in a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda-powered entry. Good enough with a 22nd place starting spot, the Mexican driver Jourdain Jr will start two spots behind Townsend Bell but two ahead of Sebastian Saavedra.

Another impressive qualifying effort that involved getting an underdog race effort into the Indianapolis 500 was the run by Alex Tagliani with the Bryan Herta Autosport team. The reigning Indy 500-winning team, the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian entry skipped the last IZOD INDYCAR Series race in Sao Paulo to focus on defending their Indianapolis Motor Speedway success in 2012. The decision to miss a race was also reflective on Lotus removing the race team from their powerplant alliance. Bryan Herta Autosport returned to Indy with Honda power and Alex Tagliani locked the car into the field. Starting 11th place for what will be the fourth row of the 2012 Indianapolis 500, the #98 car recorded a speed of 224-mile per hour flat.

At 4:30 pm, the fight for the pole of the 2012 Indianapolis 500 was amongst the drivers who will start on the first three rows of the event. The Fast Nine session gave eight Chevrolet-engined competitors and one Honda engine race team a chance to claim the top spot in the most prestigious race in the world. The #26 Andretti Autosport car of Marco Andretti performed the first completed qualifying attempt for what was a 225.456 mile per hour average speed.

Six minutes after Andretti’s time, the next competitor taking to the 2.5-mile oval was Ryan Briscoe for Team Penske. Briscoe’s #2 Chevrolet-powered Dallara would drastically better Marco Andretti’s best by more than a mile per hour average.
Recording a four-lap average speed of 226.484, Ryan Briscoe would survive the charges of Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power initially.

With 50 minutes to go, the biggest challenge to Briscoe’s pole position emerged from the Andretti Autosport team. Wheeling the #27 GoDaddy-sponsored Dallara-Chevrolet, Canadian James Hinchcliffe took to his Fast Nine time trial with an initial lap of 226.934 miles per hour. However, a slight cool down in the remaining three laps by Hinchcliffe’s car would result in a narrowly positive outcome for Ryan Briscoe. An overall four-lap effort of 226.481 miles per hour for James Hinchcliffe, the #2 Roger Penske-owned race machine of Briscoe would hold the pole by just 0.003 miles per hour.

The pole for Ryan Briscoe for next Sunday’s Indy 500 is the first for an Australian driver, the top starting position is the 17th for Team Penske. Penske’s pole position will be joined by second row starts for the team’s other two cars. Will Power starts 5th while Helio Castroneves will start 6th for the 2012 Indianapolis 500.

With the top 24 fastest entrants with berths in the Indy 500, the remaining 9 cars will have to log times on Sunday’s Bump Day qualifying settling the 33-car field. 

Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Starting Grid (1-24)

Pos # Car # Driver Race Team Engine Supplier Average Speed
1 2 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Chevrolet 226.484
2 27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 226.481
3 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 226.240
4 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 225.456
5 12 Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet 225.422
6 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet 225.172
7 67 Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda 224.037
8 11 Tony Kanaan KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 224.751
9 5 EJ Viso KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 224.422
10 8 Rubens Barrichello KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 224.264
11 98 Alex Tagliani Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Honda 224.000
12 38 Graham Rahal Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.959
13 25 Ana Beatriz Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing Chevrolet 223.920
14 83 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.868
15 9 Scott Dixon Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.684
16 50 Dario Franchitti Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.582
17 19 James Jakes Dale Coyne Racing Honda 223.482
18 4 JR Hildebrand Panther Racing Chevrolet 223.422
19 15 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 223.392
20 99 Townsend Bell Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda 223.134
21 18 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing Honda 222.929
22 30 Michel Jourdain Jr Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 222.893
23 77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda 222.891
24 17 Sebastian Saavedra AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 222.811

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