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Franchitti tops interrupted practice

Dario Franchitti was quickest in a Sears Point IndyCar practice session interrupted by a violent accident involving Nelson Philippe, Will Power and EJ Viso.

Both Power and Philippe have been taken to hospital for their injuries to be assessed after the crash, which happened when Philippe spun out of Turn 3a and was collected by following cars.

In his first race back with Conquest Racing, Philippe spun twice at the same blind crest in the early part of the session, and the second rotation left his car stationery on the racing line.

Viso was able to jink in avoidance, but his HVM Dallara's left rear wheel still struck the front of Philippe's car.

Power then appeared on the scene moments later and hit the side of Philippe's Dallara with substantial force. The Australian Penske driver has been taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by helicopter for back pain to be investigated, while Philippe is being transported by road having sustained a foot injury. Both also suffered concussion, but were reported to be awake and alert in the track's medical centre.

The accident halted the session for half an hour, although ten minutes of running were added at the end of the morning. Ganassi driver Franchitti went fastest late on, beating Penske's Helio Castroneves and star rookie Mike Conway (Dreyer & Reinbold), who had briefly been quickest of all in the closing stages.

Hideki Mutoh was among the frontrunners throughout and ended up fourth in the best of the Andretti Green cars, ahead of championship leader Scott Dixon (Ganassi).

Graham Rahal completed the top six for Newman/Haas/Lanigan, but his team-mate Oriol Servia only completed four laps before stopping with a fuel pump problem.

Other drivers in trouble included Ryan Briscoe, who spun his Penske Dallara-Honda early on, Dan Wheldon (Panther), who crashed at the Turn 9/10 chicane just as the Viso, Power and Philippe incident unfolded, and Tony Kanaan, whose AGR car developed a brake problem. Ed Carpenter (Vision) also caused a yellow with a high-speed spin through the dirt.

Franck Montagny impressed by taking eighth place on his series debut (bar the IRL-officiated Champ Car finale in Long Beach last year). The Frenchman is having a one-off outing in a fifth AGR entry.

Pos  Driver             Team                 Time        Gap
 1.  Dario Franchitti   Ganassi              1m17.2196s
 2.  Helio Castroneves  Penske               1m17.5134s  + 0.2938s
 3.  Mike Conway        Dreyer & Reinbold    1m17.5669s  + 0.3473s
 4.  Hideki Mutoh       Andretti Green       1m17.5833s  + 0.3637s
 5.  Scott Dixon        Ganassi              1m17.8387s  + 0.6191s
 6.  Graham Rahal       Newman/Haas/Lanigan  1m17.8661s  + 0.6465s
 7.  Marco Andretti     Andretti Green       1m17.8764s  + 0.6568s
 8.  Franck Montagny    Andretti Green       1m17.8791s  + 0.6595s
 9.  Ryan Briscoe       Penske               1m17.8857s  + 0.6661s
10.  Mario Moraes       KV                   1m18.2868s  + 1.0672s
11.  Tony Kanaan        Andretti Green       1m18.3002s  + 1.0806s
12.  Justin Wilson      Coyne                1m18.3058s  + 1.0862s
13.  Danica Patrick     Andretti Green       1m18.4026s  + 1.1830s
14.  Raphael Matos      Luczo Dragon         1m18.4133s  + 1.1937s
15.  Richard Antinucci  3G                   1m18.4623s  + 1.2427s
16.  Will Power         Penske               1m18.5542s  + 1.3346s
17.  Ryan Hunter-Reay   Foyt                 1m18.6003s  + 1.3807s
18.  Robert Doornbos    HVM                  1m18.7949s  + 1.5753s
19.  Dan Wheldon        Panther              1m19.0271s  + 1.8075s
20.  EJ Viso            HVM                  1m19.0436s  + 1.8240s
21.  Ed Carpenter       Vision               1m19.3378s  + 2.1182s
22.  Oriol Servia       Newman/Haas/Lanigan  1m19.8541s  + 2.6345s
23.  Nelson Philippe    Conquest             1m20.2605s  + 3.0409s
24.  Milka Duno         Dreyer & Reinbold    1m22.3152s  + 5.0956s

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