IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe celebrates his victory in Sonoma. (Jose Carlos Fajardo / MCT )
Ryan Briscoe posted the fastest lap Friday in the first practice for Saturday night's 500-mile IndyCar race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
The Team Penske driver turned a lap of 217.517 mph on the two-mile oval as temperatures climbed above 100 degrees in Fontana, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
Later Friday, Briscoe and the other drivers are to hold a qualifying session to set the starting order for the MAVTV 500. Then it's more practice as the sun begins to set, because Saturday's race is set to start at 5:50 p.m. PDT and finish under the lights.
Ed Carpenter was the second-fastest in the first practice, at 216.971 mph, followed by reigning Izod IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti at 216.545 mph and Briscoe teammate Will Power at 216.443 mph.
Saturday's race will determine the series' 2012 champion. Power, an Australian driver, has a modest 17-point lead in the title standings over Ryan Hunter-Reay of the Andretti Autosport team.
Hunter-Reay was 16th on the speed charts in the opening practice, at 211.274 mph.
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