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Franchitti flies in St. Pete practice

Dario Franchitti made an impact on his return to the IndyCar Series, setting a time six tenths of a second quicker than anyone else in the first practice session ahead of the opening race of the season this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg

The 2007 champion waited in the pits for the majority of the 90-minute session while the track dried, but appeared at the end for just 10 laps and set a 1m04.503s on his penultimate tour. The Scot's Chip Ganassi team-mate, reigning champion Scott Dixon, was his nearest challenger but Dixon's best effort was a 1m05.148s.

Behind the Ganassi pair, Justin Wilson was third fastest for Dale Coyne Racing following a stint at the top of the timesheet as the surface began to dry out.

Ryan Briscoe was fourth in the first Penske car, ahead of Panther's Dan Wheldon and HVM Racing's EJ Viso - the Venezuelan having been the quickest driver after an hour's running on the wet streets.

Marco Andretti set the best time of the Andretti-Green cars in seventh place, just ahead of Penske's Will Power, though the pair were still only half a second adrift of Dixon's second place time.

Mario Moraes finished the session in ninth place, with Graham Rahal just pipping his Newman/Haas/Lanigan team-mate Robert Doornbos to 10th.

All 22 confirmed entries were present, although AGR's Tony Kanaan did not complete any flying laps.

Pos Driver                Team                   Time 
 1. Dario Franchitti      Ganassi            1:04.503
 2. Scott Dixon           Ganassi            1:05.148
 3. Justin Wilson         Dale Coyne         1:05.184
 4. Ryan Briscoe          Penske             1:05.206
 5. Dan Wheldon           Panther            1:05.339
 6. EJ Viso               HVM                1:05.397
 7. Marco Andretti        Andretti-Green     1:05.637
 8. Will Power            Penske             1:05.650
 9. Mario Moraes          KV                 1:05.741
10. Graham Rahal          Newman/Haas        1:05.820
11. Robert Doornbos       Newman/Haas        1:06.089
12. Vitor Meira           AJ Foyt            1:06.269
13. Raphael Matos         Luczo Dragon       1:06.304
14. Alex Tagliani         Conquest           1:06.387
15. Ryan Hunter-Reay      Vision             1:06.421
16. Mike Conway           D&R                1:06.534
17. Hideki Mutoh          Andretti-Green     1:06.773
18. Danica Patrick        Andretti-Green     1:07.313
19. Ed Carpenter          Vision             1:08.542
20. Darren Manning        D&R                1:08.673
21. Stanton Barrett       3G                 1:10.644
22. Tony Kanaan           Andretti-Green     no time

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