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Briscoe Claims Toyota Grand Prix Pole, But Franchitti to start from first

At the end of the Firestone Fast Six 10-minute Shootout, Ryan Briscoe claimed the pole for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The record lap of one minute, 8.6089 seconds earned Briscoe his first pole of the season, one bonus point and $10,000. This is Briscoe’s first pole since Chicagoland in 2010.

However, he will be starting 11th because of a 10-grid spot penalty after changing his engine due to an advisory from Chevrolet.

“We’ve only done short stints so far, but I feel like the first step is having the pace, and we know we’ve got that, so that’s definitely going to be a big help to us starting from 11th tomorrow,” Briscoe said yesterday. “Last year we started 12th, and through strategy ended up leading a lot of laps in the race. So we’re going to look at all of that. It’s going to be tough – it’s a really hard track to pass on, so we’re going to have to do our best and see what we can do to get to the front.”

The pole for Briscoe gives Team Penske their third consecutive of the season and fourth consecutive pole at Long Beach.

Briscoe’s Team Penske teammate Will Power qualified second, 0.0984 seconds behind Briscoe. However, he will be starting 12th due to also being effected by the penalty.

“It was a battle in the Fast Six for sure, that was everything I had and we threw down a mega lap,” Power said. “Qualifying was important because we didn’t want to end up 15th or 16th, but yeah so I’m sure we’re going to make the best out of the situation and see where we can end up. Days like tomorrow will end up being really important for the championship, just trying to get as many points as possible and work hard at strategy.”

Andretti Autosports Ryan-Hunter Reay qualified third, however will start 13th due to the penalty.

“It was OK, I expected a little bit more grip out there today but with only one session and 2 laps at a time here and it was tough to know what we really wanted out of the car, but it was the same for everybody,” he said. “So tired of being that couple hundredths off of the Penske guys here, three years in a row now. Definitely wanted the pole despite the penalty we’re going to take, and that was as good a chance as I’ve ever had, and we’re going to start 13th I believe. So yeah it was a good day, but we wanted a lot more today and I’m pretty bummed about that.”

The pole sitter for the event will be Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti, who qualified fourth will start on the front row as he was the first driver not affected by the engine rule change penalty.

“In the Firestone Fast 6 we knew where we’d be starting regardless of what time we did, but we kind of wanted to earn it,” Franchitti said. “We didn’t quite have it in the car. So we’ll go back tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”

E.J. Viso and James Hinchcliffe qualified fifth and sixth, though will start further back due to both changing motors. Franchitti would be joined on the front row by Josef Newgarden, who qualified seventh.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is set to take place on April 15th at 3:30pm EST. The race will be telecast live by NBC Sports Network. The IMS Radio Network will also carry the race live on XM Channel 94 and Sirius 212.

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