Castroneves beats Dixon in practice

Helio Castroneves beat title rival Scott Dixon to the fastest time in Friday practice at Detroit

Castroneves beats Dixon in practice

Ganassi driver Dixon, who leads Castroneves by 43 points with 104 up for grabs in the two remaining championship rounds, topped the morning session on a still-dirty track by a comfortable half a second.

But in the improved conditions of the afternoon, Castroneves (Penske) turned the tables on Dixon in the closing stages - setting a 1:13.2059 lap to end the day on top by 0.4937 seconds.

"We are headed in a good direction, but we are going to have to keep working," said Castroneves.

Although Dixon was underwhelmed by his day, he was confident that his car had the potential to go faster tomorrow.

"I had a problem with hitting the wall twice and bent the tow link," he said. "We actually had to repair the car in the middle of the session and had to end early because we had to fix it.

"The car was actually quick out of the box. I think we were quickest in the first 10 minutes, but we had a lot of understeer. We tried dialing it out and made the car a lot worse.

"We put a set of stickers (new tyres) on the car and it was pretty average. I think the car can be a little bit quicker, and using the baseline set-up from this morning, it should have been quicker. Helio is quite fast, but I don't know if the track changed because of the weather."

Panther Racing's Vitor Meira was third in second practice, pushing Castroneves' Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe down to fourth.

Andretti Green duo Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan completed the top six, but their teammate Marco Andretti struggled - languishing in 20th in the morning and only improving to 18th later on.

Behind seventh-placed Ryan Hunter-Reay (Rahal Letterman), Darren Manning and Bruno Junqueira impressed by taking eighth and 10th for their respective underdog teams Foyt and Dale Coyne, while KV Racing duo Oriol Servia and Will Power rebounded to take ninth and 11th in second practice having both lost wheels in the morning.

The KV cars' unusual problems aside, the day passed with little incident bar a number of spins for struggling owner/driver Marty Roth.

Practice one: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1:13.9714 2. Helio Castroneves Penske 1:14.4954 + 0.5240 3. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1:14.9002 + 0.9288 4. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1:15.6494 + 1.6780 5. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman 1:15.7004 + 1.7290 6. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1:15.7323 + 1.7609 7. Graham Rahal Newman Haas Lanigan 1:15.9390 + 1.9676 8. Dan Wheldon Ganassi 1:15.9760 + 2.0046 9. Darren Manning Foyt 1:16.0432 + 2.0718 10. Vitor Meira Panther 1:16.0602 + 2.0888 11. Ernesto Viso HVM 1:16.2482 + 2.2768 12. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1:16.4874 + 2.5160 13. AJ Foyt IV Vision 1:16.7216 + 2.7502 14. Will Power KV 1:16.7979 + 2.8265 15. Tomas Scheckter Luczo Dragon 1:16.8601 + 2.8887 16. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne 1:16.9212 + 2.9498 17. Oriol Servia KV 1:17.2074 + 3.2360 18. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne 1:17.3831 + 3.4117 19. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold 1:17.4258 + 3.4544 20. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1:17.6144 + 3.6430 21. Justin Wilson Newman Haas Lanigan 1:17.9563 + 3.9849 22. Ed Carpenter Vision 1:18.3216 + 4.3502 23. Jaime Camara Conquest 1:19.4043 + 5.4329 24. Enrique Bernoldi Conquest 1:19.4495 + 5.4781 25. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 1:23.5300 + 9.5586 26. Marty Roth Roth 1:33.5782 + 19.6068 
Practice two: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Helio Castroneves Penske 1:13.2059 2. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1:13.6996 + 0.4937 3. Vitor Meira Panther 1:13.9816 + 0.7757 4. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1:14.1373 + 0.9314 5. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1:14.4452 + 1.2393 6. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1:14.6517 + 1.4458 7. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman 1:14.6552 + 1.4493 8. Darren Manning Foyt 1:14.7119 + 1.5060 9. Oriol Servia KV 1:14.7147 + 1.5088 10. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne 1:14.7326 + 1.5267 11. Will Power KV 1:14.8398 + 1.6339 12. Tomas Scheckter Luczo Dragon 1:14.8960 + 1.6901 13. Justin Wilson Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1:14.9100 + 1.7041 14. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1:14.9609 + 1.7550 15. EJ Viso HVM 1:15.0732 + 1.8673 16. Dan Wheldon Ganassi 1:15.2644 + 2.0585 17. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1:15.5606 + 2.3547 18. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1:15.5702 + 2.3643 19. Ed Carpenter Vision 1:16.2213 + 3.0154 20. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne 1:16.4200 + 3.2141 21. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold 1:16.6437 + 3.4378 22. AJ Foyt IV Vision 1:16.7840 + 3.5781 23. Jaime Camara Conquest 1:17.2781 + 4.0722 24. Enrique Bernoldi Conquest 1:18.0948 + 4.8889 25. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 1:20.6361 + 7.4302 26. Marty Roth Roth 1:25.0063 + 11.8004 

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