Simon Pagenaud flexed his road racing muscles by topping the times in the third 45-minute practice session on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course in Long Beach ahead of Sunday's third round of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

The Frenchman posted a lap of 1:08.0960s (104.041mph) in what was by far the quickest session o far that the drivers have enjoyed, Pagenaud's time cutting over 1.3 seconds off the best time of Friday set by Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay. In fact, all but two drivers beat yesterday's benchmark on Saturday morning.

The session proved considerably less problematic than Friday's afternoon practice which was heavily affected by stoppages. There were two red flags in Practice 3, the first of them for Will Power swiping the tyre wall at turn 1 and damaging his rear wing around a third of the way into the 45-minute session.

A second red some five minutes after the track reopened was for Power's Penske team mate Helio Castroneves, who suffered mechanical problems after spinning at turn 5. However, the Brazilian was able to bring the #3 back to pit road under its own power and able to participate in the session once the track went green again.

Power was also able to resume and ended up deposing Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Mike Conway from second place in the final seconds before the chequered flag came out. Power ended up just under eight hundredths of a second off Pagenaud's time, and the identical minute amount ahead of Conway.

Yesterday's fastest man Hunter-Reay ended the session in fourth place just behind Conway. The rest of the top ten was filled by Graham Rahal, Dario Franchitti, Charlie Kimball, AJ Allmendinger, Simona de Silvestro and Castroneves in tenth.

Qualifying takes place on Saturday afternoon from 2pm (10pm BST). A half hour Sunday morning warm-up starting at 9am (5pm BST) is the last track activity for the IndyCar drivers before the race which starts at 1.45pm (9.45pm BST.)

Practice 3 times

1. #77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt (H) 104.041mph 1:08.0960s (21 laps)
2. #12 Will Power Penske (C) 104.03mph 1:08.1036s + 0.0076s (20 laps)
3. #17 Mike Conway RLL (H) 104.018mph 1:08.1112s + 0.0152s (23 laps)
4. #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti (C) 103.915mph 1:08.1790s + 0.083s (20 laps)
5. #15 Graham Rahal RLL (H) 103.913mph 1:08.1803s + 0.0843s (23 laps)
6. #10 Dario Franchitti Ganassi (H) 103.875mph 1:08.2051s + 0.1091s (21 laps)
7. #83 Charlie Kimball Ganassi (H) 103.774mph 1:08.2715s + 0.1755s (20 laps)
8. #2 AJ Allmendinger Penske (C) 103.764mph 1:08.2781s + 0.1821s (19 laps)
9. #78 Simona de Silvestro KV Racing (C) 103.667mph 1:08.3420s + 0.246s (18 laps)
10. #3 Helio Castroneves Penske (C) 103.641mph 1:08.3593s + 0.2633s (21 laps)
11. #11 Tony Kanaan KV Racing (C) 103.637mph 1:08.3615s + 0.2655s (19 laps)
12. #4 JR Hildebrand Panther (C) 103.49mph 1:08.4587s + 0.3627s (21 laps)
13. #25 Marco Andretti Andretti (C) 103.433mph 1:08.4967s + 0.4007s (21 laps)
14. #55 Tristan Vautier Schmidt (H) 103.426mph 1:08.5013s + 0.4053s (18 laps)
15. #7 Sebastien Bourdais Dragon (C) 103.392mph 1:08.5238s + 0.4278s (17 laps)
16. #22 Oriol Servi? Panther/DRR (C) 103.385mph 1:08.5285s + 0.4325s (20 laps)
17. #14 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt (H) 103.346mph 1:08.5539s + 0.4579s (21 laps)
18. #16 James Jakes RLL (H) 103.289mph 1:08.5922s + 0.4962s (19 laps)
19. #27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti (C) 103.256mph 1:08.6139s + 0.5179s (19 laps)
20. #67 Josef Newgarden SFHR (H) 103.225mph 1:08.6347s + 0.5387s (20 laps)
21. #98 Alex Tagliani BHA (H) 103.16mph 1:08.6781s + 0.5821s (17 laps)
22. #9 Scott Dixon Ganassi (H) 102.942mph 1:08.8232s + 0.7272s (22 laps)
23. #5 EJ Viso Andretti-HVM (C) 102.863mph 1:08.8762s + 0.7802s (18 laps)
24. #19 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne (H) 102.59mph 1:09.0592s + 0.9632s (16 laps)
25. #6 Sebastian Saavedra Dragon (C) 102.139mph 1:09.3640s + 1.268s (19 laps)
26. #20 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter (C) 102.011mph 1:09.4512s + 1.3552s (24 laps)
27. #18 Ana Beatriz Dale Coyne (H) 101.773mph 1:09.6140s + 1.518s (22 laps)

Total laps: 539


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