While speeds in morning warm-up for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg didn’t approach those of qualifying, the 30-minute session gave drivers a final chance to prepare for the 110-lap race and ended with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s two drivers fastest overall.
Takuma Sato edged teammate Graham Rahal by 0.0811 seconds to top the warm-up timesheet in his No. 30 Honda. The RLL cars led a group of four Hondas in the top five and seven in the top 10.
From the all-American Andretti Autosport lineup, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi added the other two Honda-powered cars to the top five with the third- and fourth-fastest laps, respectively, although Hunter-Reay was nearly a half second slower than the fastest practice time of the weekend, set by him in Practice 3.
Despite Team Penske’s dominance in qualifying, the team didn’t crack the top five. Instead, the top Chevrolet was that of AJ Foyt Racing’s Matheus Leist, whose 1:01.4187 was 0.3245 seconds off Sato’s best time.
Josef Newgarden, who brought out a red flag when he spun off course at Turn 13, was sixth fastest. Marco Andretti, Spencer Pigot, Zach Veach and Scott Dixon completed the top 10. Set to start Sunday afternoon’s race from the pole, Will Power ended the morning outing with the 17th-fastest time.
Continuing to struggle in their IndyCar debut, DragonSpeed and driver Ben Hanley were mired at the bottom of the timesheet, more than 2.5 seconds off Sato’s pace.
Next up for the series is 110 laps of racing along the shore of Tampa Bay. Live television coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN ahead of the first green flag of 2019 at 1:37 p.m.