Indy 500 Qualifying 2012: Ryan Briscoe Pole Win Doesn't Mean Race Win

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIMay 20, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 20:  Ryan Briscoe the pole sitter for the Indianpolis 500 and driver of the IZOD Team Penske car poses on the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 20, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ryan Briscoe was the shocking winner of the 2012 Indy 500 qualifying, posting a four-lap average of 226.484 mph. In the closest qualifying in Indy 500 history, Briscoe edged James Hinchcliffe by .0023 seconds in the 10-mile qualification run to claim the first Indy pole victory of his career.

Hinchcliffe had this to say about his narrow loss, per the AP:

"It's a gust of wind, it's a shadow over a part of the track," Hinchcliffe said, before holding up his name card and explaining that was the distance. "I'm going to lose a little bit of sleep at how small the margin was to Ryan."

He shouldn't worry though, as Briscoe's pole win will not result in a victory at the actual race next Sunday. Briscoe has won just six races in his eight-year career, with the last coming in 2010 at the Firestone 550K. He won the pole for that race as well, but has only won two of the 11 races in which he was the pole-sitter.

His inconsistency gives reason to believe that he will fall short of victory at the Indy 500. The 30-year-old member of Team Penske did not obliterate the field at qualifying, he was barely able to squeak out a victory by the skin of his teeth.

Alex Tagliani won the pole last year, but finished at a disappointing No. 28. The last pole-winner to win the Indy 500 was Helio Castroneves in 2009, who also failed to win the race in 2010 after winning the pole.

Also working against Briscoe is that he will have Marco Andretti, Will Power and Castroneves breathing down his neck in the second row. All are using Chevy engines, meaning that the gap between the first two rows will be the only advantage that Australian is afforded.

Power and Castroneves have 33 IndyCar Series wins combined, so Briscoe will have to be on his A-game to stay in the No. 1 spot. Power has won three of four starts this season, and Castroneves has won one race of his own in 2012.

The possibility of Briscoe finishing the race in first place seems bleak with the crop of drivers so closely behind him.