#7 Max Papis - Miller Lite Ford Cosworth/Reynard
Papis and the Miller Lite crew ran among the leaders in the opening practice session despite fighting some wicked understeer. The Miller car finished tenth in the morning with a fast lap of 207.486 mph. Papis improved in the afternoon turning a lap of 211.099 mph, which left him seventh overall for the day.
"It is nice to be back in Japan after racing here earlier in my career in Formula Three," said Papis. "As for our day on the track our car is not in Kenny's class but we are improving. The car had some understeer in the morning session. We were able to work on the race setup this afternoon and that will help us come Saturday. We need a little bit more speed for qualifying on Friday afternoon. Last year we were third in qualifying so we know what we have to do to be successful here."
#8 Kenny Brack - Shell Ford Cosworth/Reynard
Brack set the pace through the opening day of practice for the Firestone Firehawk 500 posting the fast lap in the morning session at 211.123 mph. Through the chaotic afternoon session, which saw several lengthy caution periods, Brack remained among the leaders and he finally posted the fast lap of the day at 213.885 mph late in the session.
"It's very early in the weekend but I would rather be at the top of the list than at the bottom," said Brack. "This is the first time this year that we haven't had a problem on the first day of a race weekend. Obviously this is only practice and the most important moment of the weekend comes on the last lap of the race. A lot of things can change over the next two days but I feel pretty good about how the weekend has started. This is a fantastic facility and the track is a lot of fun. We spent the bulk of the afternoon session working on our race set-up and we found the Firestone tires were quite durable and that allowed us to run some consistently fast laps on some older tires. I think we have a good base for our qualifying run."