IRL: Castroneves leads Friday practice at The Glen

Helio Castroneves set the fastest lap during practice for Sunday's Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix. Five days after completing the Indianapolis 500, the IndyCar Series was back on track for two sessions with Castroneves topping the speed chart with a...

Helio Castroneves set the fastest lap during practice for Sunday's Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix. Five days after completing the Indianapolis 500, the IndyCar Series was back on track for two sessions with Castroneves topping the speed chart with a lap at 1:30.6783 (133.792 mph).

Castroneves and Tony Kanaan enjoyed the friendly competition, as the pair of Brazilians swapped the top position on the speed chart. Castroneves said, "I saw the No. 11 on top and said, 'No way.'

Castroneves was concerned that he would run out of time as the team spent a lot of time working on his car in the pits. "The team fixed the car in time and with 20 minute sto go, I was able to get out there and come back with a time. Every time you're in the pits here, you lose time, because the track gets better and better."

Tony Kanaan, who was fastest during the morning session, was second overall on the day. Kanaan shaved nearly three tenths of a second from his morning practice, yet his best lap at 1:31.0462 (133.251 mph), wasn't enough to knock Castroneves from the top spot. "After 20 years, we've been doing that to other all the time. It didn't surprise me."

Kanaan admitted that he was "working towards qualifying tomorrow. We're just fine tuning the car right now."

Marco Andretti was third fastest after improving his time more than a second from the morning session. Andretti, who finished second in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, stopped the clocks at 1:31.1722 (133.067 mph). "We came with a pretty good car and were quick right away," said Andretti. "We've been making improvements and it's going smooth so far."

Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon were fourth and fifth, respectively. "We've been struggling a bit today with front grip," said Dixon, who won the inaugural Indycar Series event at Watkins Glen last year. "I think when they changed the tires for us this year, it hurt us a lot ore than the Dallaras, and trying to find front grip for us is not so easy."

Wheldon said his problem was due to "the left and right tires the wrong way around. We just couldn't understand why it wasn't working.

"As soon as we fixed that, we figured it out."

All but five of the 19 drivers improved their morning practice times but Sam Hornish and Dario Franchitti relied on their morning times to earn the sixth and seventh fastest laps of the day.

"We still have a little bit of work to do," said Hornish. "The first session was good and we were happy. During the second session we didn't pick up as much speed as we had hoped.

Vitor Meira was eighth, followed by Bryan Herta and Ryan Briscoe, who rounded out the top ten driving Dreyer and Reinbold's No. 5 Dallara. "This was the first time I was in the Dallara chassis with the Honda engine and it all felt good." Ninth in the morning session, Briscoe thought he could "still move up a little bit."

Despite improving by nearly a second, Briscoe still ended up dropping one position, to tenth on the day's speed chart.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing