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Franchitti, Honda take the top spot in Wednesday’s Indy practice

May 15, 2013, 6:51 PM EDT

Dario Franchitti AP

Wednesday’s Indianapolis 500 practice was the closest yet to simulated race day conditions, particularly the last hour of the day when the track was at its busiest. Ambient temperatures more than 90 degrees, with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track more than 120, should be close to the last Sunday in May.

Dario Franchitti had his first day at the top of the timesheets, another driver who posted the day’s fastest lap thanks to a tow. Franchitti clocked in at 224.236 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

“We’re still in the preparation stage (for the race),” said Franchitti. “Running in groups, if you get the car close enough, it’s definitely something that prepares you for the race. If you have that luxury it’s good.”

Townsend Bell had his best day of the week in second, in the Sunoco/Turbo entry for Panther Racing. Helio Castroneves and a pair of Ryans – Hunter-Reay and Briscoe – completed the top five.

A number of teams swapped out engines and/or changed over to their primary cars. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s search for speed continued with James Jakes, Michel Jourdain Jr. and Graham Rahal all languishing in the 218-19 mph range until Jakes put in a late flier to end at 221.241, in 16th.

A total of 2,165 incident-free laps were run on the day – rookie Conor Daly recorded the most laps (126) and Sebastien Bourdais and Simona de Silvestro the fewest (18).

Bourdais’ Dragon Racing teammate Sebastian Saavedra had an odd day when the chrome graphic wrap on his No. 6 car became dislodged and littered the track. Saavedra ended the day in a blank white entry once the team took the remaining wrap off the car.

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