IRL: Motegi: Dario Franchitti Thursday report

Franchitti Second Quick in Alpine Car on Opening Day at Motegi MOTEGI, Japan (April 15, 2004) - Alpine driver Dario Franchitti hasn't run a race at Twin Ring Motegi since 2002, but showed no signs of a one-year layoff as practice opened for...

Franchitti Second Quick in Alpine Car on Opening Day at Motegi

MOTEGI, Japan (April 15, 2004) - Alpine driver Dario Franchitti hasn't run a race at Twin Ring Motegi since 2002, but showed no signs of a one-year layoff as practice opened for Round 3 of the 2004 Indy Racing League® (IRL) IndyCar® Series Thursday in Motegi, Japan.

Franchitti, who is driving the #27 Alpine Dallara/Honda/Firestone this weekend, turned a lap 202.374 miles per hour (27.0390 seconds) on the 1.5-mile oval, which ranked second overall on Thursday's speed chart. The only driver to run faster than Franchitti over the course of the two 90-minute practice sessions was his Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan, who clocked in at 203.907 miles per hour.

The remainder of the top-five in Thursday's practice included last year's race winner Scott Sharp (201.905), Helio Castroneves (201.876) and Buddy Rice (201.662).

Qualifying for Saturday's running of the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 is set for 12:30 p.m., local time on Friday (Thursday, 11:30 p.m., EDT). Final practice for the race is slated for Friday and will begin at 3:45 p.m. (local time).

Dario Franchitti, #27 Alpine Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"This morning was very difficult because the track was really dirty, so we didn't think we learned all that much from this morning's session. This afternoon was better. We were able to work on our race setup a little bit and got the Alpine car a bit more comfortable, so we're pretty happy. There were a couple more things we would have liked to have tried, but 45 minutes goes by pretty quick."

Kyle Moyer, General Manager, Andretti Green Racing:

"Things were pretty good today. The one thing we've got to keep reminding ourselves is that Dario didn't run here last year. He hasn't run here for two years. But, I think once he got back on track and got the rhythm going, he was in pretty good shape. We just need to do a little bit more work to get the Alpine car as comfortable as possible, but we're pretty close."

-agr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice