Ryan Briscoe celebrates his pole position for the Indianapolis 500

Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe has become the first Australian to take pole position for the Indianapolis 500, setting a stunning four-lap average speed of 226.4mph in the ‘Fast 9’ shootout on Pole Day for the great race.

Briscoe’s lap, which was set 50 minutes into the 90-minute session, withstood a fiercely competitive attempt by Andretti Autosports’ James Hinchcliffe, who fell short by just .0023mph.

Briscoe's four flying laps were simply stunningHinchcliffe, who we learned after the session was carrying a pair of gloves owned by fallen countryman Greg Moore inside his car during an earlier attempt, paid tribute to the late star who ‘Hinch’ described as a major influence on his career.

“I’ve had them all week, and I sort of decided I wanted to save them for qualifying,” Hinchcliffe told SPEED.com.

“Ask anybody, and one of the coolest things we get to do is qualify at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and I wanted him to be able to do that.”

Moore, who never raced at Indianapolis due to the CART/IRL split being at the height of its acrimony in 1999 when he was killed at the season-ending Marlboro 500 CART event at Fontana Superspeedway.

Josef Newgarden was Honda's only representative in the 'Fast 9' shootout for pole positionChevrolet effectively owned the Top 9, with Sarah Fisher Hartman’s sensational protégé Josef Newgarden providing Honda with its only entry in the Top 9 session, qualifying on the inside of Row 3 in seventh place.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will complete the front row of the grid for the 96th edition of the “greatest spectacle in racing”, with team-mate Marco Andretti close behind, meaning the three Andretti cars will start second, third and fourth.

Will Power and Helio Castroneves close the book on a dominant Penske/Andretti result in fifth and sixth, respectively.

Behind Newgarden are the two KV Racing entries of Tony Kanaan and EJ Viso, the former of whom had an earlier qualifying attempt disqualified for a lack of ballast on his car.

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the day was Rubens Barrichello. Having never raced at Indianapolis in anything other than a Formula One car, Rubens experienced the track in the other direction to the scene of one of his 11 race victories and excelled once again, qualifying an amazing tenth-fastest with an average speed of 224.264mph over his four flying laps.

Last year’s pole-winner Alex Tagliani will start from eleventh place, the highest of the teams still adjusting to their new engine power following the late ditching of the super-slow Lotus.

It was another disappointing day for Team Ganassi, with none of its four drivers participating in the Top 9 session and starting no higher than Graham Rahal in twelfth. Ganassi’s two main entries Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti will start all the way back in 15th and 16th.

Lotus’ only two representatives in Simona De Silvestro and Jean Alesi did not even make an attempt, deciding to wait until ‘Bump Day’ on Sunday to try their chances at squeezing into the Top 33 for next week’s 200-lap race.

2012 IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 ‘Pole Day’ Qualifying Results:

  Driver Entrant Result  
1. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske Chevrolet 226.484mph ‘Fast Nine’
2. James Hinchcliffe CAN Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 226.481mph ‘Fast Nine’
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 226.240mph ‘Fast Nine’
4. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 225.456mph ‘Fast Nine’
5. Will Power AUS Team Penske Chevrolet 225.422mph ‘Fast Nine’
6. Hélio Castroneves BRA Team Penske Chevrolet 225.172mph ‘Fast Nine’
7. Josef Newgarden USA Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda 224.037mph ‘Fast Nine’
8. Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet Waved Off ‘Fast Nine’
9. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Chevrolet Waved Off ‘Fast Nine’
10. Rubens Barrichello BRA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 224.264mph  
11. Alex Tagliani CAN Bryan Herta Autosports Honda 224.000mph  
12. Graham Rahal USA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.959mph  
13. Ana Beatriz BRA Andretti / Conquest Chevrolet 223.868mph  
14. Charlie Kimball USA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.868mph  
15. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.684mph  
16. Dario Franchitti GBR Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 223.582mph  
17. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing Honda 223.482mph  
18. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing Chevrolet 223.422mph  
19. Takuma Sato JPN Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda 223.392mph  
20. Townsend Bell USA Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda 223.134mph  
21. Justin Wilson GBR Dale Coyne Racing Honda 222.929mph  
22. Michel Jourdain Jr MEX Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda 222.893mph  
23. Simon Pagenaud FRA Schmidt Hamilton Honda 222.891mph  
24. Sebastián Saavedra COL Andretti Autosport / AFS Racing Chevrolet 222.811mph  
DNQ. Wade Cunningham NZL AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda 222.689mph  
DNQ. Mike Conway GBR AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda 222.434mph  
DNQ. Sébastien Bourdais FRA Dragon Racing Chevrolet 222.415mph  
DNQ. Bryan Clauson USA Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda Crashed  
DNQ. Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Crashed  
DNQ. Katherine Legge GBR Dragon Racing Chevrolet Waved Off  
DNQ. Oriol Servià ESP Panther / Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Crashed  
DNQ. Simona de Silvestro SUI Lotus-HVM Racing Lotus No Time  
DNQ. Jean Alesi FRA Fan Force United Lotus No Time  

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.