Castroneves leads Sears Point practice

Helio Castroneves turned the fastest lap during practice for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at the 2.303-mile Infineon Raceway road circuit. Castroneves nipped Tony Kanaan by 0.2217 seconds as the checkered flag waved to end the second...

Helio Castroneves turned the fastest lap during practice for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at the 2.303-mile Infineon Raceway road circuit. Castroneves nipped Tony Kanaan by 0.2217 seconds as the checkered flag waved to end the second of two practice sessions. Kanaan set his best time in the morning practice session.

Team Penske rebounded from a midweek incident that saw their transporter catch fire in Wyoming while en route to this weekend's race. While all the damage from the fire has yet to be accessed, the team was forced to use their backup cars for this event.

"If there is a team that knows how to rebound it's Team Penske," said Castroneves. "They tried to make sure I wouldn't feel a difference, and to be honest, I don't. The car is basically the same."

Some equipment from the burned transporter will be salvaged, but the condition of the race cars is not yet known. According to a team member the cars may have experienced only water damage.

"I keep joking that the seat that I loved got burned up, but the one I have here is very similar," Castroneves said.

Second fastest on the day with his time from the morning session, Tony Kanaan was 0.2181 seconds slower in the afternoon. "We worked on qualifying setup in the morning, and we concentrated on the race in the afternoon," said Kanaan. "I'm pretty pleased with how today went."

Four drivers are still mathematically capable of wining the championship, but the likelihood of anyone outside of Scott Dixon winning is remote. "Obviously we are working towards a real possibility that there will be a big fight between me and Dan (Wheldon) for the third position in the championship. Helio and Dixon are so consistent right now that I think it's going to be really difficult to catch them, so I'm focused on winning races," Kanaan said.

Oriol Servia turned 44 laps today, waiting until his 43rd lap to turn his fastest. Servia and his KV Racing Technology teammate Will Power were both quick, setting the 3rd and 4th fastest laps, respectively.

"It helped KV Racing Technology to come here to test last week," said Servia. "It brought us closer to the established teams, which is where we want to be, but we still need to keep working."

Despite issues with his brakes during the morning session, Vitor Meira ended the day fifth fastest. Meira said he was happy with his car and was looking forward to making an appearance in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session on Saturday.

Castroneves' Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe was sixth fastest, noting that he worked on race setup all day. "We're happy with the car even though we weren't at the top of the speed charts. We put on a new set of tires right before the end of the session, but we weren't able to post a time."

Series points leader Scott Dixon was seventh fastest followed by three Andretti Green Racing drivers. Danica Patrick was fastest of the trio with Marco Andretti and Hideki Mutoh nine and tenth, respectively.

Patrick, Andretti and Mutoh noted that they were happy with the progress they made through the day but were expecting more speed tomorrow. Patrick said her team will "continue to build from the practices into qualifying" and she hopes to be in the final qualifying session for the fastest six cars on Saturday afternoon.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Will Power , Hideki Mutoh , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , KV Racing Technology