Dario Franchitti topped Friday morning practice for the IndyCar Series' Long Beach debut.
The Scotsman and his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team are making their first appearance at the legendary California street track since 2002, as Long Beach has been added to the unified IndyCar schedule this year after hosting the Champ Car finale last season.
Franchitti's time of 1m11.1915s gave him a clear 0.3-second margin over St Petersburg winner Ryan Briscoe (Penske) in second place.
Mario Moraes took a surprise third for KV Racing, which announced this afternoon that it will add Paul Tracy to its lineup for at least the Indianapolis 500.
Will Power took fourth in the second Penske car, but the main news for Roger Penske's team was that while practice was under way, Helio Castroneves was acquitted of tax evasion charges, and had a mistrial declared in the conspiracy charges against him, at his trial in Miami (click here for story)
. The Brazilian will reclaim his seat from Power starting Saturday, with Power switching to a third, No. 12 entry for this race and Indianapolis.
Newman/Haas/Lanigan duo Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos completed the top six, Doornbos having been comfortably fastest in the initial half-hour session for rookies and drivers outside the top ten in the championship.
Reigning champion Scott Dixon was seventh for Ganassi, with Mike Conway impressing for Dreyer & Reinbold again in ninth – although Luczo Dragon's Raphael Matos was the top rookie this time, one place ahead.
Andretti Green had a disappointing session, with Tony Kanaan - the best of its drivers – having a spin on the way to 11th ahead of St Pete heroes Ryan Hunter-Reay (Vision) and Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing)
Alex Tagliani and Darren Manning have managed to extend their respective one-race deals with Conquest and Dreyer & Reinbold to encompass Long Beach as well, and were 17th and 18th fastest.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m11.1915s
2. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m11.5385s + 0.3470s
3. Mario Moraes KV 1m11.6395s + 0.4480s
4. Will Power Penske 1m11.6512s + 0.4597s
5. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m11.6777s + 0.4862s
6. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m11.9263s + 0.7348s
7. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m11.9562s + 0.7647s
8. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 1m12.023s + 0.8318s
9. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m12.0611s + 0.8696s
10. EJ Viso HVM 1m12.1371s + 0.9456s
11. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1m12.3380s + 1.1465s
12. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 1m12.3799s + 1.1884s
13. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne 1m12.5172s + 1.3257s
14. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1m12.6952s + 1.5037s
15. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1m12.7809s + 1.5894s
16. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m12.8060s + 1.6145s
17. Alex Tagliani Conquest 1m13.3121s + 2.1206s
18. Darren Manning Dreyer & Reinbold 1m13.4413s + 2.2498s
19. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m13.5154s + 2.3239s
20. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1m13.8488s + 2.6573s
21. Ed Carpenter Vision 1m13.8651s + 2.6736s
22. Stanton Barrett 3G 1m14.1921s + 3.0006s