Penske's Ryan Briscoe laid down the challenge to the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers heading into this weekend's season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

His laptime of 217.517mph (33.1008s) was a little over eight hundredths of a second ahead of Ed Carpenter, and was set in just 11 laps of running on the two mile oval in the 90-minute practice session on Friday morning local time.

Will Power was the fastest of the two men still competing for the 2012 series title in fourth place, his best lap of 33.2651s some 0.8139s faster than his rival for the championship Ryan Hunter-Reay. Both men will have grid penalties for the start of tomorrow night's race for engine changes, along with 12 other drivers.

Practice was interrupted by two incidents: Simona de Silvestro lost an engine midway through the session, while Justin Wilson crashed in turn 2 ten minutes later and did heavy damage to the suspension of his Dale Coyne Racing car.

"I was going into turn 1, and I was on new tyres. I was starting my second lap," he explained. "I'm not sure why it didn't stick. It's disappointing; it set our whole weekend back. We'll just have to work on trying to get the car ready for tomorrow now."

There was also a third brief flag for debris and a track inspection. This was the only practice ahead of qualifying which takes place two hours after the end of the morning session, and will use the standard 'time trial' format for ovals.

A further 45 minute practice session is scheduled for early evening to match the 5.45pm PST (1.45am BST) start time for the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championship race itself on Saturday evening, which is expected to last up to three hours before the chequered flag due shortly before 9pm (5am BST).

Practice 1 times

1. #2 Ryan Briscoe 217.517mph 33.1008s after 11 laps
2. #20 Ed Carpenter 216.971mph 33.1842s + 0.0834s after 21 laps
3. #10 Dario Franchitti 216.545mph 33.2495s + 0.1487s after 9 laps
4. #12 Will Power 216.443mph 33.2651s + 0.1643s after 11 laps
5. #3 Helio Castroneves 216.355mph 33.2787s + 0.1779s after 13 laps
6. #9 Scott Dixon 216.211mph 33.3008s + 0.2000s after 9 laps
7. #11 Tony Kanaan 215.902mph 33.3484s + 0.2476s after 37 laps
8. #26 Marco Andretti 215.166mph 33.4625s + 0.3617s after 33 laps
9. #4 JR Hildebrand 214.739mph 33.5291s + 0.4283s after 23 laps
10. #38 Graham Rahal 212.625mph 33.8624s + 0.7616s after 16 laps
11. #6 Katherine Legge 212.433mph 33.8930s + 0.7922s after 36 laps
12. #27 James Hinchcliffe 212.248mph 33.9226s + 0.8218s after 28 laps
13. #18 Justin Wilson 211.856mph 33.9854s + 0.8846s after 12 laps
14. #8 Rubens Barrichello 211.796mph 33.9949s + 0.8941s after 27 laps
15. #83 Charlie Kimball 211.362mph 34.0648s + 0.9640s after 20 laps
16. #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 211.274mph 34.0790s + 0.9782s after 19 laps
17. #15 Takuma Sato 210.939mph 34.1331s + 1.0323s after 19 laps
18. #77 Simon Pagenaud 210.182mph 34.2560s + 1.1552s after 30 laps
19. #5 EJ Viso 210.017mph 34.2830s + 1.1822s after 14 laps
20. #17 Sebastian Saavedra 209.559mph 34.3579s + 1.2571s after 20 laps
21. #22 Oriol Servia 209.554mph 34.3587s + 1.2579s after 27 laps
22. #19 James Jakes 209.094mph 34.4343s + 1.3335s after 26 laps
23. #14 Wade Cunningham 208.188mph 34.5841s + 1.4833s after 28 laps
24. #67 Josef Newgarden 206.143mph 34.9272s + 1.8264s after 3 laps
25. #98 Alex Tagliani 204.026mph 35.2897s + 2.1889s after 15 laps
26. #78 Simona de Silvestro 195.804mph 36.7714s + 3.6706s after 9 laps

Total Laps: 516