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Franchitti fastest in practice for Sao Paulo 300

SAO PAULO — Three-time defending IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti set the pace in practice for the Sao Paulo 300, finishing ahead of two-time race winner Will Power on Saturday.

Franchitti had a lap of 1 minute, 22.2611 seconds at the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi circuit on the streets of South America's biggest city, .816 ahead of Power. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third and Scott Dixon fourth.

Qualifying is scheduled for later Saturday.

Power had been fastest with his Penske in the first practice on Saturday, edging Chip Ganassi teammates Franchitti and Dixon.

Power is trying to win his third straight race in Sao Paulo. The Australian also won the last two races heading into Brazil and is the series points leader.

Power teammate Ryan Briscoe was fifth after both sessions were held under overcast skies but dry conditions.

Rain affected the first two races won by Power in Brazil. The inaugural event was postponed for a day and last year the race was cut short.

Some of the main changes to the track this year aimed to improve the drainage system at the street circuit. Officials also reduced a strong bump near the breaking point for the first chicane, which drivers had complained about last year.

It was the first race in which Honda was allowed to make changes to the turbochargers on its engines, giving the six teams using them an extra boost of power. Honda was permitted to make the change after a three-person panel on Thursday upheld an IndyCar decision against an appeal by Chevrolet.

Along with Franchitti with the fastest time, five other drivers using Honda engines made the top 10 in practice. The other four were using Chevrolet. Lotus also is supplying engines to teams this season. IndyCar has multiple engine manufacturers for the first time in seven years.

The best Brazilian was Power teammate Helio Castroneves, who finished only 13th after hitting the wall in the second session. Rubens Barrichello, in his first race at home since joining IndyCar this season after a 19-year career in Formula One, was 14th. Barrichello's fellow Brazilian driver and teammate Tony Kanaan was only 18th.

"I think I adapted well to the track, it's not too hard," Barrichello said. "The fans can expect me giving everything I have, their cheers are my fuel."

Graham Rahal struck a tire barrier exiting a turn and had his session cut short in the first practice, while Castroneves didn't finish the second practice after running over a curb at the first chicane and hitting the wall.

Penske is trying to win its fourth straight race to start the season for the first time in team history in IndyCar.

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