Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe ended the opening day of preparations for the Rexall Edmonton Indy in a familiar position, taking 1-2 at the head of the timesheets to reverse their starting positions from last year's race on the runways of the city airport.
Castroneves posted the quickest time of the day at 1min 01.5467secs on his 13th - and final - lap of the afternoon session, usurping team-mate Briscoe, who had posted his best effort - a 1min 01.9820secs lap - six minutes earlier. The Australian, polesitter in the inaugural Edmonton IndyCar Series race last year, completed four more laps than his Brazilian colleague, but could not retake top spot as Penske limited its running.
"It's a great start for Team Penske, and it shows what we can do as a three-car team with Will [Power], that it helps everybody," Castroneves pointed out, "We need to keep it up for qualifying and the race. It's great to have a healthy competition inside the team, and we're working on keeping it inside the team for the weekend. It's not over, though, as it's just Friday. This place is amazing and you learn something every time you go out on the track."
"The cars have come out of the truck feeling good," Briscoe added, "It's a good start for Team Penske and, with Will looking strong as well, it's a great start to the race weekend. But it's just one of those weekends where we feel like we need to take care of the tyres and save them for the race - that's why we stopped early today."
Power, driving the third Penske entry after returning to action in Toronto a fortnight ago, had topped the first practice session in the #12 Penske Truck Rental Dallara but had to settle for third overall, on 1min 02.0853secs, as the team swept the board.
"We had a mixed day as, after we led morning practice, I had a few excursions into the grass in the afternoon, damaged one front wing, but still managed to get a fairly quick lap right at the end," the Australian admitted, "It was good enough for third behind my two team-mates. I wasn't satisfied with third, but we'll think things over tonight and be ready for tomorrow when it counts in qualifying."
Defending race winner Scott Dixon was fourth for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, on 1min 02.3164secs, while rookie Raphael Matos rounded out the top five in the #2 US Marines Luczo Dragon car, one place ahead of fellow series newcomer Mike Conway, who produced another strong road course performance for Dreyer & Reinbold on his first acquaintance with Edmonton.
Graham Rahal, Mario Moraes, Justin Wilson and Paul Tracy completed the top ten, while Dario Franchitti, who reclaimed the points lead after winning in Toronto, was only 13th fastest on his Edmonton debut in Ganassi's new Vaseline MEN Lotion-liveried machine.
"We had a pretty good day," Tracy reported, "We didn't end up where I think the car is capable of being, but we were in the top five for the first session and most of the second. We made a few changes in the second half of the second practice, which didn't work out, but, by then, it was too late to reverse them. Tonight we will get the car back to the how it was, and then I think we have a car capable of qualifying in the top five."