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Franchitti leads Friday practice at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio –Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan paced the opening day of preparations for the inaugural Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course.

Franchitti, a two-time pole winner on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit as a driver in CART, recorded a fastest lap of 1 minute, 7.3629 seconds, 120.672 mph in the No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Kanaan was second fastest with a lap of 1:07.5476, 120.342 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car.

Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner at the track, and Sam Hornish Jr., were third and fourth, respectively. Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon, who is attempting to tie a series record with his third straight victory, was fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Marco Andretti, Vitor Meira, Danica Patrick, Darren Manning and Buddy Rice.

Activities continue on Saturday with a final practice, followed by qualifying.  Sunday's 85-lap race, the last of five consecutive mid-summer race weekends in 2007, starts at 1:30 p.m. EDT (pending the conclusion of the British Open golf tournament), with live television coverage on ABC.   IRL

Pos Driver                   Time      Behind Speed
1 Dario Franchitti (27) 1:07.3629 ... 120.672
2 Tony Kanaan (11) 1:07.5676 0.2047 120.306
3 Helio Castroneves (3) 1:07.6899 0.3270 120.089
4 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 1:07.7551 0.3922 119.973
5 Scott Dixon (9) 1:07.9778 0.6149 119.580
6 Marco Andretti (26) 1:08.0705 0.7076 119.417
7 Vitor Meira (4) 1:08.2852 0.9223 119.042
8 Danica Patrick (7) 1:08.3365 0.9736 118.953
9 Buddy Rice (15) 1:08.5103 1.1474 118.651
10 Darren Manning (14) 1:08.5881 1.2252 118.516
11 Dan Wheldon (10) 1:08.7003 1.3374 118.323
12 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 1:09.0580 1.6951 117.710
13 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 1:09.3506 1.9877 117.213
14 Scott Sharp (8) 1:09.5259 2.1630 116.918
15 Tomas Scheckter (2) 1:09.7053 2.3424 116.617
16 AJ Foyt IV (22) 1:10.4548 3.0919 115.376
17 Ed Carpenter (20) 1:11.1190 3.7561 114.299
18 Sarah Fisher (5) 1:11.8579 4.4950 113.123


DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest in practice): "We started off this morning with a very similar car to the one we tested here (in June). I don't think the words undriveable are too strong. It wasn't very good. We had a lot of work to do and the track changed a lot as we put rubber down. We made some changes on the car and now we're pretty happy. We made changes that went along as the track seemed to pick up a lot of grip and I think will continue to do so all weekend, which as Tony (Kanaan) just said, its going to be physically a very, very tough race."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest): "It was OK. We had a pretty good morning session. We made a couple of changes in the car in the afternoon, and we improved, but we couldn't improve the lap time. The team is doing OK. Dario (Franchitti) and myself are pretty strong right now, so we're definitely looking good for tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest): "Obviously we'd like to be a little faster today, but we're happy with being in the top-three for now. The Team Penske car isn't quite dialed in yet, but I think with a little more work tomorrow morning we should be good to go for qualifying."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest): "On the whole, we're pretty happy with what we accomplished today. We weren't really happy with the setup of the Team Penske car during the morning session, but we feel much better about it following our afternoon run. It seems that everyone is trying to push their cars as much as possible to see what kind of speed they have, but we haven't been working too much on that. We've been focusing a lot on our race setup. The key to this race is going to be track position, so we've trying to get the car to handle well through the corners in order to minimize tire wear. We'll just come back out tomorrow and work on fine tuning things a bit with the goal of making into the top six."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth fastest): "Today is definitely the best start to a road course weekend that we've had. I said coming into the weekend that how you start the weekend is really representative of the rest of it. We came out of the box well. My engineer (Martin Pare) set me up with a good car that was easy to push. I feel like the whole weekend is now about fine-tuning than it is about a 'where do we go from here' kind of thing. I think everybody on Team Motorola is doing a good job."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 13-fastest): "It was a good first day for the Ethanol car. Having never driven an Indy Car (Series car) until today and being just a couple tenths out of the top 10 is pretty decent. We have a lot of info from today that we need to go over tonight, we'll make some changes and see what we can come up with for tomorrow's qualifying."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest): "It was a pretty good day for the NYSE boys today.  We were trying different things and between the four AGR cars, I think we've found something that is going to make us all very competitive.  Our goal tomorrow is to get into the Firestone Fast Six and anything can happen from there."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest): "The day started out all right. The first session, we had a little bit of understeer. The second session was bit of a nightmare. We didn't improve the car whatsoever. We didn't really make any changes to improve it, which I think was a waste. When we did make our sticker run, I wanted to run more laps, but the radio wasn't working, I don't know how much fuel I had on board. All in all, the second session was terrible. The first session was OK. I still think we have enough speed to be in the top-six." (About chances to win third-straight race at Mid-Ohio): "We haven't given up hope of trying to (win). It's nice coming to a road course with a chance to win a third-straight race. It's going to be tough. The AGR guys are running good. There are four of them in the top nine. It's going to be a tough between those guys. All we can do is try to go as fast as we can tomorrow, and if we're not on pole, try to go around them on Sunday."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest): "I'm happy with today. From the first practice to the second practice we made improvements to the car, and I improved myself, too.  That's what you want, to go out every session and get better and better.  If we keep improving like we are, the Delphi car is going to be in front come race time."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, ninth-fastest): "We were fast all morning long, and then we had a problem with the gearbox, which forced us to miss the last 20 minutes of the session. That kept us out of the group we need to be in. It makes a lot of difference being in that group. It will hinder us in qualifying. Our car is still being pretty quick and the road course setup is quite consistent. It's disappointing that a self-inflicted wound kept us out of the fast group."

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