Simon Pagenaud set the quickest time in today's third IndyCar free practice session Saturday morning at St. Petersburg.
Penske duo Will Power and Ryan Briscoe had looked safe at the top of the timing screens with the only sub-1m02s laps in the field until Pagenaud – who was issued a 10-place grid penalty last night for an unauthorized engine change – produced a 1m01.8929s effort with just five minutes left on the clock.
That was enough for the Schmidt-Hamilton rookie to best Power's time by a scant 0.04sec, with Briscoe holding an equally small deficit to his teammate. Reigning champion Dario Franchitti was just behind them; the top four being covered by 0.1sec.
Mike Conway was responsible for the only brief red flag period when his A.J. Foyt car stopped at the side of the track after 20 minutes – just moments after he'd set the fastest time of the day up to that point – but he was able to rejoin as soon as the session restarted, and finished up fifth fastest.
Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon were sixth and seventh quickest; both drivers having held the fastest times earlier in the session, with Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves completing the top 10.
Rubens Barrichello again failed to trouble the front-runners, although he made a significant gain relative to the outright pace compared with yesterday. He finished up with the 20th-fastest time, 0.9sec off Pagenaud's mark.
Pos Driver Team/Car/Engine Time Gap
1. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt DW12-Honda 1m01.8929s
2. Will Power Penske DW12-Chevrolet 1m01.9395s + 0.0466s
3. Ryan Briscoe Penske DW12-Chevrolet 1m01.9428s + 0.0499s
4. Dario Franchitti Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m02.0046s + 0.1117s
5. Mike Conway Foyt DW12-Honda 1m02.0150s + 0.1221s
6. Graham Rahal Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m02.0222s + 0.1293s
7. Scott Dixon Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m02.0561s + 0.1632s
8. Josef Newgarden Fisher DW12-Honda 1m02.1342s + 0.2413s
9. James Hinchcliffe Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.1547s + 0.2618s
10. Helio Castroneves Penske DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.1563s + 0.2634s
11. EJ Viso KV DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.2310s + 0.3381s
12. Tony Kanaan KV DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.3279s + 0.4350s
13. JR Hildebrand Panther DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.3678s + 0.4749s
14. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.4455s + 0.5526s
15. James Jakes Coyne DW12-Honda 1m02.4648s + 0.5719s
16. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon DW12-Lotus 1m02.4774s + 0.5845s
17. Marco Andretti Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.5191s + 0.6262s
18. Justin Wilson Coyne DW12-Honda 1m02.6131s + 0.7202s
19. Takuma Sato Rahal DW12-Honda 1m02.6939s + 0.8010s
20. Rubens Barrichello KV DW12-Chevrolet 1m02.7945s + 0.9016s
21. Oriol Servia Dreyer Reinbold DW12-Lotus 1m02.8365s + 0.9436s
22. Charlie Kimball Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m02.9398s + 1.0469s
23. Simona de Silvestro HVM DW12-Lotus 1m02.9640s + 1.0711s
24. Alex Tagliani BHA DW12-Lotus 1m03.3503s + 1.4574s
25. Ed Carpenter Carpenter DW12-Chevrolet 1m03.4051s + 1.5122s
26. Katherine Legge Dragon DW12-Lotus 1m03.7094s + 1.8165s