Australian driver Ryan Briscoe has claimed a ‘moral’ pole position for Sunday’s IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but the Team Penske driver – along with a further thirteen drivers – will be forced to take a grid penalty under the championship’s rules. The grid reshuffling means that reigning champion Dario Franchitti will start from pole position.
Fans have been baying for series officials’ blood when it was announced that all eleven Chevrolet runners and three Lotus-engined drivers would take a ten-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.
The story stems from Chevrolet discovered a fault in one engine, which was then discovered in all of its V6 units. Under competition rules, if the engines have not yet hit their mandated minimum running mileage of 1,850 miles, then a grid penalty is enforced for the following round.
Franchitti was the only non-Chevrolet driver who made it into the ‘Fast Six’ phase of qualifying, meaning that pole position was assured for the Chip Ganassi driver.
But with a championship point up for grabs for the driver who could post the fastest time, it still remained a closely-fought contest.
Briscoe’s time of 1:08.6089 came in the dying seconds of the session, and his effort bumped provision ‘pole-sitter’, Penske team-mate Will Power, into second with Ryan Hunter-Reay third.
The host of grid penalties means that IndyCar rookie Josef Newgarden will start on the front row alongside Franchitti in his Sarah Fisher Hartman entry, the youngster having narrowly missed out on a ‘Fast Six’ berth.
The second row will be shared by Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne) and the impressive Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Hamilton), while Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi) and Takuma Sato (RLL) claim the third row.
Dixon was lucky to qualify as well as he did after his Honda-powered entry developed a dramatic gearbox oil fire in the second phase of qualifying.
2012 IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Qualifying Results:
* Denotes ten-place grid penalty for an engine change
With all of the grid penalties, tomorrow’s starting grid will look as follows:
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