Simon Pagenaud will have the confidence boost of having been the fastest man in the third 45-minute practice session in Baltimore as he heads into qualifying for the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.
The Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsport driver set a time of 1:18.4391s (93.627mph) in the final minute of practice, putting him over a full second faster than the best time posted by anyone during Friday's two sessions but still some way off Will Power's 2012 qualifying track record of 1:17.9750s. The #77 was just over a tenth faster than Ganassi's Scott Dixon who narrowly pipped Power for second spot on the timesheets.
Dixon and Power were involved in an early on-track incident during the session. Dixon eased up in order to build some space between him and Graham Rahal up ahead, but Power was caught out and the #12 Penske ended up running into the back of the #9 Ganassi at turn 12. Power needed a new front wing for his car, while Dixon was spun around and into the wall by the impact and his Honda engine required refiring to allow him to get back to pit lane for his own new nose section.
That caused the second red flag of the session, after an early stoppage for Power's team mate Helio Castroneves spinning the #3 in the early minutes. There was a third green flag 15 minutes into the session for two unrelated incidents, both of them featuring KV Racing Technology cars: Tony Kanaan ended up in the run-off at turn 4, while Simona de Silvestro found the tyres at turn 8 and needed retrieving.
After this staccato first half to the session, the remaining 22 minutes proceeded without any more interruptions, although James Hinchcliffe came close when he clipped a chicane kerb, knocked off his left rear wheel guard and briefly ended up in the run-off. Hinchcliffe's Andretti Autosport team mate Marco Andretti did a decent impression of his own of the incident a few minutes later, again without triggering a red.
Qualifying will begin at noon (5pm BST) and will follow the usual IndyCar three-round elimination format with the top 12 fastest drivers progressing to round 2 and then the top half of the field making it through to the Firestone Fast Six pole shootout.
A half-hour Sunday morning warm-up at 10.15am (3.15pm BST) precedes the race itself which runs from 2.30pm (7.30pm BST).
Practice 3 times
1. #77 Simon Pagenaud
(H) 93.627mph 1:18.4391s
2. #9 Scott Dixon
(H) 93.496mph 1:18.5486s + 0.1095s
3. #12 Will Power
(C) 93.456mph 1:18.5826s + 0.1435s
4. #7 Sebastien Bourdais
(C) 93.364mph 1:18.6597s + 0.2206s
5. #16 James Jakes
(H) 93.200mph 1:18.7980s + 0.3589s
6. #15 Graham Rahal
(H) 93.037mph 1:18.9363s + 0.4972s
7. #4 Oriol Servia
(C) 93.010mph 1:18.9590s + 0.5199s
8. #5 EJ Viso
(C) 92.982mph 1:18.9834s + 0.5443s
9. #98 Luca Filippi
(H) 92.939mph 1:19.0194s + 0.5803s
10. #19 Justin Wilson
(H) 92.896mph 1:19.0563s + 0.6172s
11. #3 Helio Castroneves
(C) 92.886mph 1:19.0648s + 0.6257s
12. #67 Josef Newgarden
(H) 92.857mph 1:19.0894s + 0.6503s
13. #10 Dario Franchitti
(H) 92.811mph 1:19.1284s + 0.6893s
14. #55 Tristan Vautier
(H) 92.768mph 1:19.1649s + 0.7258s
15. #83 Charlie Kimball
(H) 92.710mph 1:19.2145s + 0.7754s
16. #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay
(C) 92.687mph 1:19.2340s + 0.7949s
17. #6 Sebastian Saavedra
(C) 92.452mph 1:19.4357s + 0.9966s
18. #27 James Hinchcliffe
(C) 92.431mph 1:19.4538s + 1.0147s
19. #11 Tony Kanaan
(C) 92.393mph 1:19.4868s + 1.0477s
20. #25 Marco Andretti
(C) 91.786mph 1:20.0122s + 1.5731s
21. #14 Takuma Sato
(H) 91.738mph 1:20.0539s + 1.6148s
22. #78 Simona De Silvestro
(C) 91.610mph 1:20.1658s + 1.7267s
23. #20 Ed Carpenter
(C) 90.541mph 1:21.1120s + 2.6729s
24. #18 Stefan Wilson
(H) 90.469mph 1:21.1770s + 2.7379s
Total Laps: 378