Will Power completed a clean sweep of fastest practice times with a brilliant last lap in a frenetic end to final practice in St. Petersburg.
Penske driver Power had dominated Friday's action, leading both sessions and outpacing his rivals by 0.7sec in practice two. The Australian was quickest again for much of this morning's final hour, usurping early pacesetter Scott Dixon (Ganassi).
Dixon waited until the final minute to retaliate and depose Power – but the New Zealander did not stay in front for long as Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold), Ryan Briscoe (Penske) and EJ Viso (KV) each grabbed the top spot in extraordinarily quick succession on their respective final laps. Power still had time in hand, though, and with his own last run he improved to 1m02.1206sec – beating Viso by 0.2409sec.
Briscoe, Wilson and Dixon filled the rest of the top five, ahead of Wilson's teammate Mike Conway and Andretti Autosport's lead runner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The session saw plenty of incidents, with myriad drivers visiting the run-off areas and three damaging their cars.
Alex Lloyd caused the first stoppage when he wiped the left-rear wheel off his Dale Coyne Dallara at Turn 8 – a crash that happened at the same time as Takuma Sato launched his KV car into the air over the curbs at the final chicane, in a similar incident to that which sidelined his teammate Mario Moraes yesterday afternoon.
Newman/Haas/Lanigan faces the toughest job between now and qualifying. Hideki Mutoh had run strongly in the top 10 again initially, but did substantial damage to his Dallara's left hand side when he misjudged Turn 9 and slid into the wall with 12 minutes to go.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Will Power Penske 1m02.1206s
2. EJ Viso KV 1m02.3614s + 0.2409s
3. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m02.5244s + 0.4038s
4. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m02.5750s + 0.4544s
5. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m02.5923s + 0.4717s
6. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m02.7342s + 0.6137s
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m02.7935s + 0.6730s
8. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m02.8278s + 0.7072s
9. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m02.8729s + 0.7523s
10. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m02.9230s + 0.8025s
11. Tony Kanaan Andretti 1m03.0324s + 0.9119s
12. Mario Romancini Conquest 1m03.0745s + 0.9540s
13. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m03.1052s + 0.9847s
14. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m03.1527s + 1.0321s
15. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m03.1527s + 1.0480s
16. Alex Tagliani Fazzt 1m03.1856s + 1.0651s
17. Takuma Sato KV 1m03.2683s + 1.1477s
18. Graham Rahal Sarah Fisher 1m03.2740s + 1.1535s
19. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m03.3556s + 1.2351s
20. Raphael Matos de Ferran/Luczo Dragon 1m03.4014s + 1.2809s
21. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m03.7916s + 1.6711s
22. Mario Moraes KV 1m03.8429s + 1.7223s
23. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 1m04.6200s + 2.4995s
24. Milka Duno Dale Coyne 1m09.9728s + 7.8523s