Dario Franchitti looked firmly in command of Thursday's practice sessions as IndyCar returned to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon for the first time since 1998.
His best time of the day of 21.5665s was just over a tenth of a second off the IndyCar track record set by Andre Ribeiro (now Ana Beatriz's manager) in 1995, even though he maintained that setting fast times hadn't been the priority of the day.
"My first order of business today was to learn the track and the first run felt good," he said. "It is definitely a lot easier to learn a place when the car is doing what you want it to. We worked on the car all day just trying to change some bits and pieces and improve. It was very difficult to find those small gains, but we did reach our goal by the end of the day."
Franchitti led a Ganassi 1-2-3, with Scott Dixon finishing just 0.0539s off his team mate's top time and Graham Rahal in third place. "The car felt good today," Dixon said afterwards. "We struggled at the beginning of the day with a few set-up changes we had to go through."
Marco Andretti had been second fastest in the two and a half hour morning session, but was one of the few drivers not to improve his time in the three hour afternoon session. "The Snapple car was fast this morning but we went the wrong way with some changes this afternoon and lost some speed," he admitted. "I think the track is going to be fun, we just have to get a handle on it."
The KV Racing Technology team was eye-catchingly fast in both sessions and finished with an impressive 4-5-6 lockout behind Ganassi following the afternoon session, with Tony Kanaan showing Takuma Sato and EJ Viso the way.
"We were fast right away and kept improving the car during the afternoon run," said an energised Kanaan. "I think that there are some minor tweaks that we can try on Saturday before qualifying to see if we can get the car a little bit faster, but overall I'm happy with how the day went."
"This track is quite unique, but we were up to speed very quickly and worked on various things," said Sato. "We ran a lot of miles and I learned a lot ... It was a very productive day."
Less happy was the Penske stable which had a subdued day, Ryan Briscoe topping out in 12th place ahead of Helio Castroneves in 16th and title contender Will Power struggling down in 19th in the 27-car field.