By Jeff Olson
Ryan Briscoe moved out from under the magical shadow of his teammate Saturday by winning the pole position for the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile.
Briscoe recorded a record four-lap time of 1:26.7966 seconds – 168.394 mph – around the historic oval in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara-Honda shortly before his teammate, Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, crashed during his qualifying run.
That put Briscoe, who started second at Indy and ran second behind Castroneves before being forced to pit late in the race, 0.14 second ahead of Saturday’s next-fastest qualifier, Graham Rahal. Briscoe won the race last year, giving Roger Penske his 300th
victory as a car owner.
“I came into this race last year not having had good experiences with this place, so getting the win was awesome,” Briscoe said. “I learned a lot from my race last year. I didn’t qualify very well. My car has been a lot better in qualifying this year, so hopefully we can replicate a good race setup as well.”
Rahal, who also started second last year at Milwaukee, was clocked at 168.117 mph in the No. 02 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda.
"The car felt pretty good, but I had a big snap and a big moment on the last lap and our fourth lap time was three-tenths slower than the previous one. If that hadn't happened, I think we would have had pole. We showed up today exactly how we ended last year because we are pretty competitive."
Tony Kanaan, driving despite bruised ribs and other injuries, qualified third-best, followed by Scott Dixon, Mario Moraes and Hideki Mutoh.
Kanaan, who crashed hard during the Indy 500 last week, had X-rays on his ribs that proved negative. Instead, doctors have treated the deep bruising with pain killers and rest.
“If you look at me, it looks like I’m not going to make it,” Kanaan said. “But watch tomorrow. I try to forget about the pain, but it keeps reminding me every time I turn.”
Paul Tracy, who replaced Vitor Meira after his crash at Indy, qualified A.J. Foyt’s car in the No. 16 position. “The car wasn’t in the ballpark this morning practice, so we put a new setup on it,” Tracy said. “He’s not mad at me. He’s mad at the crew and engineer. He knows it’s probably not the driver that’s the problem.”
Danica Patrick qualified seventh, followed by Dario Franchitti, Raphael Matos and Tomas Scheckter in the No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold entry.
Castroneves says he was pressing hard when the No. 3 Penske Dallara-Honda spun. He will start 20th in the 21-car field.
“I was just going for it,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to try. The car snapped a little bit. I thought I had saved it, but then it just slid and brushed the wall, and unfortunately that was the end of qualifying.”
So Briscoe, who won the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg and stands third in points, is the one getting the attention after qualifying at Milwaukee’s tricky flat oval. “We talk about confidence a lot, and it does help,” Briscoe said. “But confidence comes from experience. They go together.”
Sunday’s 225-lap race is scheduled to begin shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC-TV.SPEEDS:
Pos Driver Team Speed
1. Ryan Briscoe Penske 168.394mph
2. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 168.117mph
3. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 167.793mph
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi 167.089mph
5. Mario Moraes KV 166.791mph
6. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 166.139mph
7. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 165.168mph
8. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 164.706mph
9. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 164.671mph
10. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold 163.310mph
11. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 162.187mph
12. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 161.657mph
13. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 161.531mph
14. Dan Wheldon Panther 161.433mph
15. Justin Wilson Coyne 161.411mph
16. Paul Tracy Foyt 160.798mph
17. EJ Viso HVM 160.744mph
18. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 160.381mph
19. Ed Carpenter Vision 160.079mph
20. Helio Castroneves Penske