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Dixon tops Saturday practice at Long Beach

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Scott Dixon was back atop the speed charts during the third practice for Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Dixon’s quick time of 1:07.1348 came in the final minutes of the session, making it the second time he’s led practice this weekend (he topped opening practice on Friday).

Ryan Hunter-Reay made it a Honda 1-2, also turning his fast lap in the final minutes. Simon Pagenaud, James Hinchcliffe, and Takuma Sato ran third, fourth, and fifth respectively.

Of note, Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais had an awkward start to the day, making light contact with the barriers in turn three. However, only the front wing suffered damage, and it was light damage at that, allowing Bourdais to quickly rejoin the session after brief repairs. He ended the session in ninth.

Two other drivers experienced hardships during third practice. Tony Kanaan suffered mechanical gremlins, which actually kept him from running for most of the session. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver suffered a sensor issue that the team had trouble diagnosing. However, they did manage to make repairs and Kanaan ran five laps in the final minutes to record the 15th best time. “We had a sensor issue that I wasn’t aware of. It took a long time but the guys did a great job to get me out for five laps,” he told IndyCar radio afterward. “It’s not good when you’re struggling. But great job by NTT Data guys. (I) wasn’t expecting to be out this session.”

James Hinchliffe, too, had problems of his own after leading much of the session before finishing up in fourth. He ran wide into the turn one runoff area and rejoined running slowly near the end of practice, though it was unclear if he had a problem or was being cautious.

Practice 3 times are below. Qualifying begins at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 PT and local time), and airs an hour later at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT) on NBCSN.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.