TORONTO - Dario Franchitti had a positive start to the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend at Exhibition Place.

Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The three-time defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion and defending Toronto race winner topped the first day of practice with a lap of 1:00.2786 (104.813 mph) in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Rookie Simon Pagenaud was second quick (1:00.3904) in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda. Franchitti's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, who was runner-up in the race last July, was third at 1:00.5423.

The top 21 cars, including Will Power in seventh place, were separated by 1 second. Practice (9:45 a.m. ET) and the three rounds of qualifications (1 p.m. ET) are scheduled for July 7.

Justin Wilson, the 2010 pole sitter, was fourth on the time chart (1:00.6485) in the No. 18 Sonny's BBQ car for Dale Coyne Racing and Ryan Briscoe (1:00.6936) was fifth in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske entry.

Wilson was involved in a pit lane incident early in the morning session when his car "refused to go into neutral" and slid into the No. 7 Dragon Racing car of Sebastien Bourdais.

Crew members Michael Cole of Dale Coyne Racing and Daniel Martin of Dragon Racing were treated and released from the infield care center. Raffi Aroyan of Dragon Racing was transported to St. Michael's Hospital for further evaluation, which revealed no injuries. Chuck Homan of Dragon Racing was treated at St. Michael's Hospital and released.

Toronto's James Hinchcliffe did not participate in the afternoon session because of a mechanical issue with the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car. The Andretti Autosport team will replace the Chevrolet engine, which will result in a 10-grid spot penalty for the July 8 race.

Quebec native Alex Tagliani, driving the No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA car, also will incur a 10-grid spot penalty as the team chose to install its fourth fresh Honda engine of the season instead of refitting its Indianapolis 500 practice/qualifying engine after meeting the mileage limit of its Indianapolis 500 race engine (Rule 15.5.4.b violation). The No. 78 Lotus-HVM Racing car driven by Simona de Silvestro will receive a grid penalty because the team changed out the engine before it reached its mileage limit defined in Rule 15.5.1.

DARIO FRANCHITI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I hope being fast in both the morning and afternoon session is good for tomorrow. Scott and I have been going in two different on set-up and I ran two different set-ups and both were pretty good so I am not sure what direction we'll go with set-up tomorrow. Typical Toronto - it's as challenging as ever - from concrete to asphalt - smooth to bumps and areas with no grip. For day one we are happy with the Target car and we'll make some changes to go faster tomorrow and try to stay up front. It's always good to race here -we'll just put the best car we can on the track and hope to run up front."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "It went very well. We went off of what we had in Detroit, and it's a good surprise that it's working well. It's a nice track here, it's difficult because there's so many tarmac changes, but it's tricky for us drivers, it's actually a good exercise. These guys [Dario Franchitti] have got a lot more experience here, but I'm glad I'm training him. Hope I can do the same tomorrow, but I can say that the team did a fantastic job preparing the car, and you know it's nice to see two Hondas up there."

Source: From IZOD IndyCar Series press release