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IndyCar: Power stays in charge for St Pete Saturday practice

Penske's Will Power was back on top of the timesheets on Saturday morning at St Petersburg in the final practice before qualifying.
His unfortunate incident in first practice on Friday notwithstanding, Will Power has continued to dominate the build-up to this weekend's Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

Having set the fastest time of anyone on Friday, he took up where he left off when it came to Saturday morning's third practice and extended his advantage over the rest of the field with an improved time of 1:00.8965s (106.410mph) in a late run on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit.

AJ Foyt Racing's Jack Hawksworth was second fastest in the session, just 0.0833s behind Power's time. In the overall combined times, Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon is second fastest in the three sessions but on Saturday morning he was unable to improve on his earlier times and ended in tenth position.

Hawksworth had already been very happy with his performance on Friday: "The ABC car was really good all day," he said in the evening. "We did some good running in both practices so it was a very successful day for us. I think we'll just rub it tonight and give it a bit of a tune but there's not much work to do."

By comparison, Dixon admitted that the circuit just wasn't one of his team's favourites: "St Pete is a bit of a thorn in Team Target's side. Second practice we made some wholesale changes and pretty good gains. Put the one set of new tyres on, halfway through the run and actually got some traffic. I think the car has some good potential, which you can see. Hopefully we can carry that through to [qualifying]."

Power's time compared with the Australian's own pole-winning lap of 1:00.6931 seconds (106.676 mph) recorded this time last year, and the track record of 1:00.6509s (106.841mph) which Power achieved in the penultimate round of the 2015 qualifying session.

Last year's race winner, Power's team mate Juan Pablo Montoya, was third fastest ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal. The remaining two Penske drivers, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, were fifth and seventh fastes on Saturday, with Ed Carpenter Racing's Josef Newgarden splitting the pair in sixth place.

Sebastian Bourdais (KVSH Racing), Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing) and Dixon rounded out the top ten. All 22 drivers taking part in the session were within one second of Power's time.

Top rookie honours went to Alexander Rossi (Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian) who was 167th fastest and just 0.6698s slower than Power's best lap. RLL's Spencer Pigot was 19th fastest, just three hundredths of a second ahead of Max Chilton (Ganassi). Dale Coyne Racing's brace of drivers, Luca Filippi and Conor Daly, propped up the bottom of the timesheets.

"We tried some things that we thought were going to work well but unfortunately some of them didn't work as we wanted and as expected," Filippi admitted. "The position is for sure not what we expected and what we wanted to do, but it's just because we tried different changes and for some reason they didn't work out as we thought. There's no drama, we know what to do."

"We didn't start in the zone that we thought we would," added his team mate Daly. "We just had to work from a bit of a deeper hole than we'd like, which is fine. We tried something but it didn't work and that's okay, the field is so close."

Saturday's session saw a brief interruption when Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay came to a stop on the track and needed to be recovered. There was no drama, the stoppage apparently being caused by simply running out of fuel during his practice laps.

Qualifying gets underway later today at 3.40pm (8.40pm GMT). A brief half-hour warm-up session on Sunday morning at 9am (1pm GMT) precedes the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg itself, which is due to take the green flag at 12.52pm (4.52pm GMT).

See full practice 3 and combined session times from St Petersburg



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Will Power on course during practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Will Power waits in his pit stand prior to practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg -- Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Will Power - Team Penske
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Luca Filippi   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Penske  [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Alex Rossi, Indy 500 [Credit: IndyCar]
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport [credit: Walter Kuhn]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]

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