Briscoe Qualifies 6th to Lead Team Penske at New Hampshire
August 13, 2011LOUDON, New Hampshire (August 13, 2011) – Team Penske bounced back with a solid qualifying effort on Saturday as two cars qualified inside the top-10 and all three drivers will start among the first seven rows for Sunday’s MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS).
The team continued to show improved results after a tough day of practice on Thursday at the 1.025-mile NHMS oval that saw all three cars finish outside the top-10 on the timing chart. On Saturday, Ryan Briscoe posted the top qualifying result for the team as he earned a sixth-place starting spot in the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental car after recording a two-lap qualifying average of 169.541 mph. The result marked Briscoe’s sixth top-six qualifying effort of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
"Qualifying in the top six feels pretty good here,” said Briscoe, who entered the weekend ranked seventh in the series standings. “We've all struggled a little bit at Team Penske this weekend and we've put in a lot of time in the engineering room and I'm really proud of everyone on the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental team for the effort today. We've made a lot of progress since practice on Thursday and now we've got to just keep it going for the race. The track here at New Hampshire is good. It's got a narrow groove but hopefully it keeps opening up to create another lane for the race tomorrow. It should be interesting."
Helio Castroneves also earned a top-10 starting spot after he posted an average of 168.886 mph in the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske Dallara/Honda.
"I was very surprised by how fast the Guidepoint Systems car was during that qualifying run,” said Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500 champion, who will start ninth on Sunday. “Those were the best laps we have turned all weekend. We were so fast that we hit the limiter at both ends of the straights. Our car is actually better in race trim than qualifying trim, so we should be good tomorrow."
Ranked second in the series standings, Will Power went out first in qualifying, before the track had a chance to reach its optimum performance conditions. Power’s qualifying average of 167.011 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car earned him a 13th-place starting position for Sunday’s race.
"Our qualifying run was OK today in the Verizon car,” said Power. “We were at a bit of a disadvantage going out first for qualifying because the track was dusty and there was still some rubber from the other series on the surface. But the car was pretty good - we had a little push in it but we made some major changes since practice on Thursday and it is much better. We'll be ready to go when we line up for the race tomorrow."
The Team Penske cars will return to the track on Sunday morning for the final 30-minute practice session, which begins at 10:15 a.m. ET. Sunday’s 225-lap race will take the green flag at 4 p.m. ET with live coverage beginning on ABC-TV at 3:30 p.m.
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