Simon Pagenaud topped the timing screens in Saturday's final IndyCar practice session ahead of qualifying at Long Beach.
The Frenchman went to the top late in the session with a best lap of 1m08.0960s, just edging out former Champ Car team-mate Will Power by 0.0076 second.
The margin between the Schmidt and Penske drivers was representative of how tight the times were right though the field, with 18 drivers dipping under Ryan Briscoe's 1m08.6089s pole time from last year.
Power's best time came after he had earlier triggered the first red flag of the morning when he lost the rear on his way into Turn 11, a mistake that ended with his car hitting the barriers and sustaining a broken rear wing.
The only other interruption of the morning was also Penske-based, this time coming at the hands of Helio Castroneves. The Brazilian spun to a halt at Turn 5, but was able to get himself back to the pits under reds and resumed running shortly after the session restarted.
Mike Conway's good start to the weekend continued as he set the third-best lap of the morning. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver was just ahead of reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had led the times through the middle phase of the session.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m08.0960s
2. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m08.1036s + 0.0076s
3. Mike Conway Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m08.1112s + 0.0152s
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m08.1790s + 0.0830s
5. Graham Rahal Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m08.1803s + 0.0843s
6. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m08.2051s + 0.1091s
7. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m08.2715s + 0.1755s
8. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m08.2781s + 0.1821s
9. Simona de Silvestro KV Dallara-Chevy 1m08.3420s + 0.2460s
10. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m08.3593s + 0.2633s
11. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy 1m08.3615s + 0.2655s
12. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy 1m08.4587s + 0.3627s
13. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m08.4967s + 0.4007s
14. Tristan Vautier Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m08.5013s + 0.4053s
15. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m08.5238s + 0.4278s
16. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m08.5285s + 0.4325s
17. Takuma Sato Foyt Dallara-Honda 1m08.5539s + 0.4579s
18. James Jakes Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m08.5922s + 0.4962s
19. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m08.6139s + 0.5179s
20. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda 1m08.6347s + 0.5387s
21. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda 1m08.6781s + 0.5821s
22. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m08.8232s + 0.7272s
23. EJ Viso Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m08.8762s + 0.7802s
24. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m09.0592s + 0.9632s
25. Sebastian Saavedra Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m09.3640s + 1.2680s
26. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m09.4512s + 1.3552s
27. Ana Beatriz Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m09.6140s + 1.5180s