Castroneves leads first Motegi practice
18 September 2009 – Penske's Helio Castroneves led the way as the IndyCar Series returned to the track in Japan. For the start of the only race weekend outside of North America this year, the Brazilian topped the timesheets at the Motegi Twin Ring as team-mate and championship leader Ryan Briscoe wound up third.
With only Motegi and Miami still left to visit in the 2009 campaign, Briscoe arrives in Japan with a 25-point lead over Dario Franchitti in the standings with his Target Chip Ganassi team-mate and reigning Champion Scott Dixon a further 8 points back in third.
Castroveves' best effort came in the shape of 27.333, narrowly edging out Graham Rahal's Newman/Haas/Lanigan by one hundredth of a second. With Briscoe third, Dan Wheldon led the way for British honours in fourth ahead of Champion and second 2009 championship contender Dixon.
Dario Franchitti, the closest rival to Briscoe, wound up in only 11th spot in the second Ganassi car on a day when the sun shone in Japan. One track inspection took place during the 90-minute session although no other interventions were involved.