The final practice outing of the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend and, subsequently, the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season saw points leader Scott Dixon set the lap time to beat over his 24 competitors.
A 1:17.9697 lap was among the 12 Dixon turned during the 45-minute Saturday morning practice. Though that time was the fastest of the session, it came up nearly four-tenths of a second short of the lap that propelled Ryan Hunter-Reay to the top of the Practice 1 timesheet 24 hours prior.
Will Power, one of Team Penske’s two championship-contending drivers, set the second-fastest time in Practice 3 at just 0.0096 seconds back from Dixon.
Still the owner of the weekend’s top lap, Hunter-Reay completed the top three and led Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden in rounding out the top five which was covered by 0.1572 seconds entering qualifying Saturday afternoon.
Behind Simon Pagenaud in sixth, Honda drivers Zach Veach, Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci and Marco Andretti comprised the remainder of the top 10. Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Ed Jones in 11th was the first driver who failed to lap within half a second of Dixon’s chart-topping time.
Though Hunter-Reay’s Practice 1 pace stood strong, seven drivers turned their fastest lap of the weekend during the 45-minute third session. Rossi as well as James Hinchcliffe, Veach, Sato, Ferrucci, Charlie Kimball, Jack Harvey and Max Chilton improved upon their Friday pace in the final session before the grid is to be set for the finale race.
A clutch issue for Sebastien Bourdais mired the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda to the bottom of the 25-car field while Carlos Munoz, driving Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ No. 6 Lucas Oil Honda, caused Practice 3’s lone red flag when he spun at Turn 9.
The winner of the final Verizon P1 Award of 2018 will be decided after knockout qualifying begins at 3 p.m. PDT. A delayed qualifying broadcast will be shown on NBCSN at 8 p.m. EDT.