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Wheldon keeps up title bid

Briton Dan Wheldon proved he has not given up on winning this year's IRL IndyCar Series Championship when he topped the times during first practice at the California Speedway on Friday

The Andretti Green driver's best lap of 33.1453 seconds (217.225mph) was set in the morning practice session and just edged out Rahal Letterman's Buddy Rice whose best lap average was 216.949mph.

Wheldon currently lies 75 points behind championship leader Tony Kanaan and needs to finish within a few places of the Brazilian at the very least to keep his title hopes alive going into the series finales at the Texas Motor Speedway on October 17.

"Everyone seems to be focused on the championship outside of Andretti Green Racing but within the team we are focused on winning this race," said Wheldon. "We posted a 217mph lap with a draft during a qualifying simulation during the morning session, and then focused on our race set-up in the afternoon.

"On the superspeedways like California Speedway you can never really read too much into practice times on Friday. I certainly think that, other than the race, the most important session is the final warm-up."

Kanaan himself has been avoiding all talk about winning the championship this weekend. Speaking after setting the fourth fastest time, behind Helio Castroneves, he said: "As close as these races are, you can't orchestrate anything. You can't worry about where Buddy is or where Tony is. You just have to take it as it is."

Briton Dario Franchitti was fifth fastest, ahead of Adrian Fernandez, Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and Tomas Scheckter.

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