The final practice session before qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach got underway on Saturday morning with everyone quickly getting down to work at perfecting their flying laps and everyone successfully managing to stay away from any significant incidents.
Penske's Will Power was the first driver of the weekend to dip under the one minute nine seconds threshold, and his team mate Helio Castroneves briefly joined him at the top of the timing screens before Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson stepped up to the plate and proceeded to push the times down further. The two Ryans - Briscoe and Hunter-Reay - were also busily having a private duel over second spot for a spell.
With 15 minutes remaining it was the the turn of the 2011 Long Beach race winner Mike Conway to go to the top of the times for Ed Carpenter Racing, before Power returned to the fray and laid down a marker of 1:08.1696s on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit. That was now almost a full second faster than Friday's best time that had been set by Simon Pagenaud in the Schmidt Hamilton Peterson Racing #77, which had started today's activity with a small electrical gremlin.
The final minutes of the 45-minute session ended with a flurry of flying laps, none of which could oust Power from the top and his time stood as the best of third practice. However Conway was shuffled all the way down to tenth place by all the late gains, with Josef Newgarden ending up taking second spot for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing just 0.0022s shy of Power's benchmark, while James Hinchcliffe was just under two tenths back in third place in the Andretti Autosport #22.
Sebastien Bourdais continued his strong run for new team KVSH Racing in fourth place just ahead of Hunter-Reay, while Wilson ended up in sixth place just ahead of Pagenaud. There was also good news for Juan Pablo Montoya, as the Long Beach circuit - where he claimed his first CART win in 1999 - proved more suited to his driving style than the season opener in St Petersburg as he posted the eighth fastest time of the session, just ahead of the English rookie Jack Hawksworth who continued to impress in ninth.
In total, 19 of the 23 drivers in action remained within a second of the top time. While Chevrolet boosted Power to the top spot, Honda won the manufacturer honours for the session with slight advantage of six-to-four in the top ten; in general, the Chevy cars seemed clustered in the middle of the timesheets while Honda had the edge at the top - but was also disproportionately present at the bottom with five of the slowest seven cars from the Honda stable.
Among those looking unusually slow in this session were Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing pair Oriol Servia and Graham Rahal in 19th and 20th respectively, while Charlie Kimball in 21st and Marco Andretti in 22nd were also clearly having some issues finding pace on Saturday morning.
Qualifying gets underway on Saturday afternoon at 1.15pm local time, which is 9.15pm BST.
See full Friday practice 1 times and results
See full Friday practice 2 times and results
See full Saturday practice 3 times and results