Ryan Briscoe fastest in IndyCar Practice 3 at St. Pete

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Chip Ganassi Racing returnee Ryan Briscoe made a late charge to top the time sheets in this morning’s third and final practice before qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Briscoe threw down a lap of 1:02.4236 in the No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet, enough to beat out former Team Penske teammate and fellow Chevy man Helio Castroneves (1:02.4730) for P1 in the session.

“It’s tough conditions out there with the wind,” Briscoe said. “The car feels not great, but everyone is struggling with the balance. We’ve made quite a few setup changes and nothing really made the improvement.”

Honda-powered Takuma Sato continued his steady weekend so far in St. Pete, logging the third fastest time this morning at 1:02.5243 in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. entry. Sato was P3 in yesterday’s morning session and then topped the afternoon session later on.

After him came another pair of Chevy drivers – KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais (1:02.5445) in fourth, and another Penske pilot, Will Power (1:02.5996), in fifth.

Simon Pagenaud, defending St. Pete champion James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, reigning series champion Scott Dixon, and rookie Jack Hawksworth rounded out the Top 10.

Qualifying is set to begin this afternoon at 2 p.m. ET. In case you’ve forgotten or are new to the sport, IndyCar utilizes a form of the knockout-style format that begins with two groups of drivers (you can see today’s groups in Tony DiZinno’s notebook from last night).

Each group receives 10 minutes of track time to set their best lap, and the top six from each group will advance to the second round. The rest will make up the grid from 13th on back (Group 1 drivers make up the odd-numbered positions, Group 2 drivers make up the even-numbered positions).

In the second round, the 12 remaining drivers will get another 10 minutes of track time. At the end of that, the six fastest move on the final round – the “Firestone Fast Six.” Those unable to advance set positions 7-12 on the grid.

In the FF6, competitors will get 10 minutes of track time with a guarantee of five minutes’ worth of green-flag time. They also receive an additional set of tires to use in this segment. The fastest driver wins the pole, with the remainder setting positions 2-6.

Veach tops opening IndyCar practice at Pocono

Photo: IndyCar
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LONG POND, Pa – After a delay of 30 minutes due to track drying – overnight rains hit Pocono Raceway and the surrounding area – opening practice for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) got underway at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach topped the speed charts in that opening practice, with a fastest speed of 217.393 mph. Veach also posted the best no-tow speed at 214.233 mph.

Behind Veach, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was second with quick lap of 217.016 mph – Veach and Newgarden were also the only drivers above the 217 mark in the first practice.

Veach’s teammate Alexander Rossi was third. Sebastien Bourdais was fourth for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, while A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five.

The lone interruption in the session came with just over 10 minutes remaining, with a yellow for a track inspection to check for debris. However, the session itself saw no on-track incidents.

Of note: Conor Daly and Harding Racing experienced a mechanical problem that limited their running during the session. Daly was able to complete 15 timed laps, but only with a best lap of 206.012 mph.

Results are below. Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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