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Hunter-Reay back on top in final Mid-Ohio practice

Ryan Hunter-Rey topped the final practice session before the Saturday afternoon qualifying session for this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
CLICK: Full practice 3 results from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Having finished Friday's two practice sessions with the fastest lap on the timesheets, Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay picked up where he left off by slicing more than eight tenths of a second off his previous best time to emerge quickest in Saturday's sole practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course ahead of qualifying.

Hunter-Reay's time in the morning session was 1:05.7082s (123.711s) compared with his lap of 1:06.5316s (122.180mph) on Friday at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course. It put him almost a tenth of a second ahead of Ganassi's Scott Dixon who was second-fastest in the 45-minute morning practice.

A late flying lap meant that Justin Wilson was only a fraction off that in third place for Dale Coyne Racing, and after that there was another tenth of a second back to the fourth-fastest man Simon Pagenaud in the Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsport #77.

"We were quick yesterday and we're quick this morning so hopefully we can translate that into what we need when it counts," said Wilson. "That's the key is doing it when it counts. So we'll see what we can do. It's very close right now with the times and one small mistake can catch you out in qualifying."

The session was slightly delayed while an oil spillage from a support race was attended to on pit lane. Once proceedings got underway, everyone improved their times on Saturday compared with their previous outings: of the 22 drivers, all but one were within two-thirds of a second of Hunter-Reay's benchmark time, indicating a very competitive and closely-matched field for Sunday's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Only Jack Hawksworth was outside that range, and in fact he was 1.3237s off the leader's pace as the Bryan Herta Autosport team struggled to get a set-up that suited the driver and the course. There was only a single red flag stoppage this time, after KV AFS Racing's Sebastian Saavedra went off the track in turn 12 and needed retrieving.

Penske appeared to be continuing a curiously low-profile strategy, with leading championship contenders Will Power and Helio Castroneves down in 11th and 15th places respectively, neither man having yet finished in the top ten in any of the times practice sessions at Mid-Ohio. The third member of the Penske squad, Juan Pablo Montoya, was even further back in 18th position in third practice, which is the last chance the cars get to fine-tune their cars before qualifying gets underway.

Showers are forecast to sweep the are shortly before qualifying which will take place at 2pm local time (7pm BST) and follow the familiar format for street and road course events in the Verizon IndyCar Series. That means the field is split into two 11-car groups from which the top six in each progresses to round 2 which consists of a single ten-minute session. The top six from this group go forward to the third and final round, which is the Firestone Fast Six pole shootout.

There will also be a further half-hour warm-up session on Sunday morning before the race itself, which takes place at 3.50pm local time (8.50pm BST) on Sunday afternoon.

See full practice 3 results from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course



Related Pictures

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Scott Dixon rolls through the Turn 12 Carousel during practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson on course during practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on course during practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to an 11th-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Montoya retains the overall driver`s championship points lead with two races left in the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to an fourth-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a third-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his third-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Graham Rahal leads a group through the Turn 2 Keyhole turn during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal and his father, Bobby, celebrate in Victory Circle following their win in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal sprays the champagne in Victory Lane following his victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal begins the celebration as he wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay waits in his pit stand prior to practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay rolls down pit lane for practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates having the fastest qualifying time Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates having the fastest qualifying time Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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