Briscoe looking for a breakthrough at Indy Japan
Ryan Briscoe will be looking to break through when he starts from the front row in Sunday's Indy Japan 300.
The Australian has never won at Twin Ring Motegi despite plenty of experience on the 1.5-mile circuit. He raced go-carts here and was as a Formula One test driver in 2003-04 before joining the IndyCar series and racing annually at Motegi.
''It's always exciting here,'' Briscoe said. ''It's so fast. It's not a flat, easy oval. Turns three and four are really fast, so it will be a tough race.''
His best result was a ninth-place finish in 2008.
Last year, Briscoe hit the wall while exiting pit lane shortly after taking the lead. The incident resulted in an 18th-place finish and damaged his pursuit of the series championship as he wound up third in the title chase.
Briscoe finished second behind teammate Helio Castroneves in Saturday's qualifying and will be part of a 1-2-3 start for Team Penske on Sunday. IndyCar series points leader Will Power was third.
Asked what he thought the team's strategy for Sunday's race should be, Briscoe had a quick answer: ''Drive three across the whole race.''
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: Three Japanese drivers will be competing in Sunday's race: Hideki Mutoh, ex-Formula One driver Takuma Sato and Roger Yasukawa.
''It would be huge if a Japanese driver won the race,'' Mutoh said. ''I could live with that experience for the next 20 years if I won the race. It would change everything.''
No Japanese driver has won the Indy Japan. The best finish was Kosuke Matsuura's seventh place in 2006.
Sato has struggled in his transition to IndyCar from F1 and is 22nd in the standings with 184 points. He has competed in six F1 events in Japan, but Sunday's race will be his first IndyCar event in his homeland.
''Obviously, I have had a tough season,'' Sato said. ''But I am actually very positive that although the learning curve has been a steep one, I have learned many useful lessons that I will bring into Sunday's race.''
Sato spun out in Saturday's morning practice session and hit the wall, but was cleared to race in qualifying and placed 10th.
KING OF OVALS: Sunday's race could determine the winner of the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy.
The trophy is awarded to the driver who collects the most points in eight oval races in the IndyCar series. After six events, Dario Franchitti leads the standings with 228 points, followed by Chip Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon (201) and Helio Castroneves (199).
Team Penske driver Will Power won the Mario Andretti Road Course Trophy after five victories this season - all on road and street courses.