He posted the best time for today's Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix.
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) -- Rookie Ryan Briscoe won his first career pole on Saturday, posting the best time at Infineon Raceway for today's Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix.
Briscoe, 15th in the IRL IndyCar point standings, recorded a speed of 108.248 mph around the 12-turn, 2.26-mile road course, slightly better than the 108.130 he had in practice on Friday.
Helio Castroneves, who like Briscoe shares extensive road course experience, qualified second at 107.664, followed by Tony Kanaan at 107.346.
The IRL, staging its first race on a permanent road course, established a unique qualifying format.
After all 21 drivers finished their single-lap runs, positions seven through 21 were locked in and the top six drivers ran for 10 minutes in an effort to improve their positions. All remained the same.
Thomas Enge qualified fourth at 106.903, followed by Castroneves' Marlboro Team Penske running-mate Sam Hornish Jr. at 106.669.
Racing backup entry
Briscoe, who led a race-high 43 laps on St. Petersburg's street course in April before being involved in an incident with another car, said he was racing a backup Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry.
"The car's been working really well. When you've got a good car, it makes my job driving a lot easier," he said. "We're here with good equipment and competitive equipment."
Both he and Castroneves predicted a tough, competitive race.
"I'm going to take it nice and easy. With my experience, I know you don't win a race on the first lap," Castroneves said.
But he downplayed Briscoe's rookie status.
"In the ovals, he's a rookie, but I guess in the road course, the street course, he's not so much a rookie," Castroneves said
IRL points leader Dan Wheldon qualified seventh at 106.454, behind Buddy Rice at 106.594.
Dario Franchitti, who was fastest in morning practice Saturday, spun on his qualifying lap and will start from the rear today.
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