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INDYCAR NEWS 

Andretti tops first Indy practice day

Marco AndrettiThe usual players were near the top of the speed chart on Thursday during the first day of practice for the full field in preparation for the 93rd Indianapolis 500.

Andretti Green's Marco Andretti, who finished third last year and second in 2006, had the fastest lap of the day at 39.9152 seconds (225.478 mph) around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Following him were Helio Castroneves, second at 225.237mph, his Penske team-mate, Ryan Briscoe, and last year's race winner, Scott Dixon (Ganassi).

While Andretti's speed raised eyebrows, it was, like most other top laps, achieved with some variation of a tow.

"Tomorrow is going to tell more of the story," Andretti said of Friday's six hours of practice before Saturday's pole qualifying.

Castroneves, who won the pole in 2003 and 2007, said he expects qualifying averages to be somewhat below Dixon's four-lap average of 226.336 mph last year.

"Remember, it's four laps," Castroneves said. "So you're not going to see a lot of people who think they're on the pole not end up getting it."

Dixon's Ganassi team-mate Dario Franchitti was behind him in fifth. Dan Wheldon was sixth-fastest for Panther Racing, while Robert Doornbos (Newman/Haas/Lanigan), Danica Patrick (AGR), Graham Rahal (NHLR) and Will Power (Penske) rounded out the top 10.

Practice resumes on Friday at noon local time, with qualifying is scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday following one last practice session at 9am.

Pos  Driver             Team                     Time      Gap
 1.  Marco Andretti     Andretti Green           39.9152s
 2.  Helio Castroneves  Penske                   39.9579s  + 0.0427s
 3.  Ryan Briscoe       Penske                   40.0171s  + 0.1019s
 4.  Scott Dixon        Ganassi                  40.0983s  + 0.1831s
 5.  Dario Franchitti   Ganassi                  40.1499s  + 0.2347s
 6.  Dan Wheldon        Panther                  40.1747s  + 0.2595s
 7.  Robert Doornbos    Newman/Haas/Lanigan      40.2518s  + 0.3366s
 8.  Danica Patrick     Andretti Green           40.3130s  + 0.3978s
 9.  Graham Rahal       Newman/Haas/Lanigan      40.3594s  + 0.4442s
10.  Will Power         Penske                   40.3776s  + 0.4624s
11.  Hideki Mutoh       Andretti Green           40.4049s  + 0.4897s
12.  Paul Tracy         KV                       40.4184s  + 0.5032s
13.  Tony Kanaan        Andretti Green           40.4321s  + 0.5169s
14.  Ed Carpenter       Vision                   40.4364s  + 0.5212s
15.  Scott Sharp        Panther                  40.4609s  + 0.5457s
16.  Mario Moraes       KV                       40.5132s  + 0.5980s
17.  John Andretti      Petty/Dreyer & Reinbold  40.5569s  + 0.6417s
18.  Sarah Fisher       Fisher                   40.6037s  + 0.6885s
19.  Davey Hamilton     Dreyer & Reinbold        40.6094s  + 0.6942s
20.  Alex Lloyd         Schmidt/Ganassi          40.6833s  + 0.7681s
21.  Justin Wilson      Coyne                    40.6872s  + 0.7720s
22.  Vitor Meira        Foyt                     40.6979s  + 0.7827s
23.  AJ Foyt IV         Foyt                     40.7165s  + 0.8013s
24.  EJ Viso            HVM                      40.7347s  + 0.8195s
25.  Mike Conway        Dreyer & Reinbold        40.7894s  + 0.8742s
26.  Raphael Matos      Luczo Dragon             40.8669s  + 0.9517s
27.  Milka Duno         Dreyer & Reinbold        40.8943s  + 0.9791s
28.  Alex Tagliani      Conquest                 41.0051s  + 1.0899s
29.  Nelson Philippe    HVM                      41.0110s  + 1.0958s
30.  Ryan Hunter-Reay   Vision                   41.2221s  + 1.3069s
31.  Stanton Barrett    3G                       41.2676s  + 1.3524s

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