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Plowman rides the reds to top final practice

Britain's IndyCar rookie Martin Plowman topped the time sheets for the final Saturday morning practice, thanks to a strong run on 'red' soft compound tyres.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports/AFS Racing's Martin Plowman put a set of the "red walled" soft option tyres to good use by topping the timesheet at the end of hour-long Saturday morning practice session. His time of 1:19.0350s pipped Dario Franchitti by just 0.004s in only the second IndyCar weekend of his career.

The red tyres appeared to provide a boost of around 2s over the harder "black-walled" compound tyres on this 12-turn 2.52-mile natural-terrain course; by comparison, Plowman had been 20th at the end of Friday's sole practice session. Meanwhile Franchitti and Will Power (a further 0.0013s back) were running on the harder tyres and saving their softer reds for the afternoon qualifying session for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in California.

Other than Plowman, JR Hildebrand and James Jakes also put runs on the red tyres to good use, ending up with with the fourth and fifth fastest times of the session just ahead of Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe who were keeping to the black tyres for practice. After the Friday session, Hildebrand had been in 19th while Jakes had finished in tenth position.

Everyone was testing and pushing to the very edge of the track, car and their personal limits, with many drivers having an occasional run-off including Will Power, Tony Kanaan, Ana Beatriz and Alex Tagliani. There were early cautions for Ana Beatriz, who slid off at turn 4 and needed a push start to recover to the pits; and Ryan Hunter-Reay who spun around at turn 3 around 15 minutes into the session, ending up facing the oncoming traffic. Beatriz triggered another caution near the end of the session when she too spun in turn 3 and stalled the engine in the process, potentially derailing anyone with ideas of making a late flying lap at the end of the session.

Renault F1 test driver Ho-Pin Tung - also on reds - impressed again with 11th place for Schmidt Dragon Racing in the timings, on his first return to the series after the ill-fated attempt to make the Indianapolis 500 starting grid in May.

Simon Pagenaud was 24th as he continued to car-sit for the absent Simona de Silvestro, whose via and immigration problems seem set to rule her out of this week's race and may even threaten her participation at next week's maiden Baltimore street race.

According to reports, an immigration official in New York questioned de Silvestro about her recent multiple trips to Canada (for the Toronto and Edmonton races) when she returned to the US from visiting family in Switzerland. When she responded that she was an IndyCar driver, he refused to believe her, decided that she was using an assumed name, voided her visa and put her on a plane back to Switzerland.

Qualifying takes place at 2.35pm local time (10.35pm BST) and will start with the field split into two 14-car groups with the top six times from each progressing through to the next round, and the top six from round 2 entered into the Firestone Fast Six pole shootout.

Group 1 consists of Will Power, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, EJ Viso, James Jakes, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Ryan Briscoe, Mike Conway, Martin Plowman, Tony Kanaan, Sebastian Saavedra, Danica Patrick and Ed Carpenter.

Group 2 consists of Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Giorgio Pantano, Ana Beatriz, Oriol Servia, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Marco Andretti, Ho-Pin Tung, JR Hildebrand, Alex Tagliani, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud and Vitor Meira.

Full Saturday practice times available.



Related Pictures

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Martin Plowman tops the Infineon Saturday practice session timings. [Photo Credit: IndyCar Media]
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais chats with his team on pit lane during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher  for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais exits Turn 8 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens  for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais passes by the Princes` Gate at Turn 1 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Eric Anderson  for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden walks the paddock prior to practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud enters Turn 4 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden waits on pit lane for practice to begin for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden enters Turn 4 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud in action (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe`s car in Canadian mode (Photo By Chris Owens for IndyCar media)
Simon Pagenaud in action (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
The eyes of Scott Dixon look down track prior to practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon on course during practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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