Raphael Matos headed a group of unexpected pacesetters as open-wheel racing returned to the streets of Toronto's Exhibition Place for the first time under unified IndyCar Series auspices.

The Brazilian rookie, driving the #2 Luczo Dragon Racing entry, topped the 23-car field through two practice sessions on the 1.755-mile eleven-turn course, posting a lap of 1min 01.4739secs to lead Justin Wilson and Will Power by three-tenths.

It wasn't a perfect 150 minutes for Matos, who also spun and made light contact with the wall in turn eleven to bring the afternoon session to a close, but provided encouragement to the relatively small Luczo Dragon team as it took the fight to IRL giants Penske and Ganassi.

"I'm very happy for the team, and that we have a good car," Matos commented, "We're a little bit frustrated with [how] things [ended] today, but I'm sure the Luczo Dragon crew will do an amazing job again putting the car back together - I'm confident that it will be perfect again. I'm looking forward to improving the car just a little bit more and trying to find a bit more speed to hopefully qualify up front."

Wilson, still riding the wave of his Watkins Glen win last weekend, was second on the speed chart, lapping in 1min 01.7627secs in the #18 Z-Line Designs/Dale Coyne Racing car as he returned to circuit where he won in Champ Cars four years ago.

"The car is doing really well, and I'm really pleased with it," the Briton reported, "There's still room to improve, but we never got to do a proper run. We only got one lap on the new tyres, so I'm confident that we can ramp it up tomorrow and find some more speed."

Power, meanwhile, showed no signs of rustiness following another enforced absence from the cockpit of Team Penske's third entry, posting the third best time on his return to the #12 machine now backed by Penske Truck Rental.

"We were reasonably satisfied with third today while trying to find the right combination for qualifying tomorrow," the Australian, the reigning Toronto 'champion', acknowledged, "I was struggling a bit under braking as I caught slower traffic, and also while catching cars exiting the pits, but this should be better tomorrow with fewer cars on track. With rain potentially coming tomorrow too, it could make things interesting."

Robert Doornbos (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing) took fourth place - his best showing of the season - to ensure that the category's 'big four', Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves and Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti had to accepted unaccustomed places between fifth and eighth.

"I've really been learning the track today, but I think we have a competitive car for Team Penske this weekend," Briscoe noted, "The track is definitely bumpy and it's a very challenging, very technical street circuit. I think it's going to be a difficult race for everyone to be consistent, but we still have some time in practice and qualifying to get to where we want to be."

Team-mate Castroneves, meanwhile, reckoned he could have been higher up the order than his eventual seventh had it not been for his own brush with the concrete.

"The car was good and we had a good lap going there in practice but, unfortunately, when I downshifted, the car kept pushing and pushing and wouldn't turn in, so I hit the wall [in turn five]," he admitted, "Fortunately, there isn't too much damage. We still have practice tomorrow and qualifying as well and I think we can be strong there."

The top ten was completed by Graham Rahal, returning to the circuit where father Bobby won the inaugural race in 1986, and Tony Kanaan, while Dreyer & Reinbold duo Mike Conway and Tomas Scheckter gave the team further optimism by clocking eleventh and twelfth place respectively. Ontario native Paul Tracy, making his 17th start on the Toronto street circuit, was 13th fastest in the #15 KV Racing Technology entry. The Canadian is another former race winner in the weekend's field, joining Wilson, Power and Franchitti.

"The team had a good test today, and a very good morning practice," Tracy reported, "We were in the top five most of the session and the car felt really good. In the afternoon, we tried a few things for the race set-up that didn't work, so we lost our way a little bit, but that was what the practice session was for. We have another practice tomorrow morning to get ready for qualifying and I am confident that we can be back in the top five. It was nice to be back on a track that I know, and racing in front of my hometown fans."

Danica Patrick and Ed Carpenter filled the bottom two spots on the timesheets, with the Andretti Green driver another to rue a meeting with the wall.

"It's been a frustrating day for the #7 team," Patrick conceded, "We didn't get in as many laps as we wanted to in the first session this morning, and then made some changes that I thought were going to make the car better for the second session, but I got into the wall at turn five and we had to call it a day. I really needed to be able to spend some time on the track so I could get more comfortable with it, but that didn't happen. I hope we have a better day tomorrow."


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