Earlier this season, I mentioned my prediction that Ganassi Racing Teams driver Ryan Briscoe would find victory this year. He has not been atop the podium since 2012 in Sonoma but his recent racing is showing that he’s definitely headed in the direction of Victory Lane once again. Today’s Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course showed the continued consistency of Briscoe in 2014, running P9 in the first round and P5 in the second round – he was fastest in that second session for the majority of the 44 minute round. If these practice sessions are any indication of qualifying, Briscoe could have a good chance at making the Firestone Fast 6 & being a contender for the Verizon P1 Award tomorrow afternoon. That might seem like I’m jumping the gun since he’s gone 2 years without a win, but when you look at the facts, it doesn’t seem all that bold.
Briscoe has a history at Mid-Ohio – winning the pole position in 2009 after winning the race the previous year. He was not with Ganassi Racing Teams at the time of those achievements, but the fact that he is now only strengthens his chances of success in central Ohio this weekend. Ganassi Racing is, quite simply, a powerhouse at Mid-Ohio. The team has produced the race winner for the past 5 years in a row (Charlie Kimball – 2013, Scott Dixon – 2012, Juan Pablo Montoya – 2011, Franchitti – 2010, Montoya – 2009) and the team has won a total of 9 times at the track dubbed “the most competitive in the U.S.”, dating back to 1996 when Alex Zanardi took the top spot.
Briscoe still has one more practice session for the Honda Indy 200, tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM ET. This will be the team’s last chance to get the car exactly how they want it for qualifying later in the afternoon. He will be in the first group that takes the track in the shootout-style qualifying. The other drivers in his group of 11, you ask? Well, let me tell you!
Qualifying Group 1 will consist of:
- Briscoe’s Ganassi teammate & recent double podium winner in Toronto, Tony Kanaan
- Both Schmidt Peterson Motorsports drivers: Simon Pagenaud (who ran 2nd fastest in Friday’s morning practice) & Mikhail Aleshin
- James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport (6th fastest in practice 1)
- All three Team Penske drivers: Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya & Helio (each has had a pole and a win at Mid-Ohio in their career)
- AJ Foyt Racing driver, Takuma Sato (3rd fastest in practice 2)
- Dale Coyne Racing driver, Justin Wilson (narrowly edged out Briscoe for 4th quickest in practice 2 this afternoon)
- Most recent Verizon IndyCar Series winner, with a victory in Race 2 of the Toronto double-header – Mike Conway, driving for Ed Carpenter Racing
As you can see, he has quite the pack to contend with but if he can stay clean in his qualifying run and get the most out of this car without any major complications, he has a great chance at advancing to the Top 12. Make sure to keep an eye out for him on track as you watch the battle happen live from the grandstands or atop the lovely hills of Lexington, Ohio that hug the sometimes-gentle & sometimes-not-so-gentle curves of the course. Don’t forget that Briscoe’s livery is different this weekend… and I for one LOVE the bright blue. Hope the team keeps this one around.
Of course, if you can’t be here in person, you can still spot Ryan Briscoe & all your favorites by tuning in to the delayed broadcast of the Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying for the Honda Indy 200 at 5:30 PM ET on NBC Sports, tomorrow evening. I will be tweeting live along with many others and the Series itself, so if you don’t want to know qualifying results in real-time… I suggest logging off social media temporarily, just to be safe. If you are interested in watching the last practice session of weekend at 10 AM EST, you may do so by heading to the IndyCar Timing & Scoring site – you’ll get livestream visual as well as live commentary from Paul Page & Pippa Mann on IndyCar Radio. You couldn’t ask for more!
Stay up to date on everything happening with the Verizon IndyCar Series at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course by bookmarking my author page, liking my public page on Facebook & following me on Twitter! MTAF Wheels is also on Twitter & Facebook!
I’ll be trackside all weekend bringing you live updates and fun event details… including the Indy Fans Tweet Up on Saturday at 5:30pm, hosted by IndyCar Driver & IndyCar Radio Broadcaster, Pippa Mann & myself! We look forward to seeing you there!