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

Franchitti tops interrupted practice

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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