Pagenaud Back on Top in Third Toronto Practice

Simon Pagenaud sweeps past Princes' Gate in Toronto
Simon Pagenaud sweeps past the Princes' Gates and into Turn 1 during Honda Indy Toronto practice. | Photo: Chris Jones / INDYCAR

Simon Pagenaud returned to the top of the timesheet in Practice 3 on the streets of Toronto to lead a Team Penske sweep of the session with all four drivers quicker than 60 seconds.

While Pagenaud wasn’t the first driver to break the 60-second barrier, he was the closest to 59 seconds when the checkered flag dropped on the 45-minute practice.

The effort from Pagenaud ensured that Penske drivers have topped each of the three practice sessions ahead of qualifying with the French driver fastest in Friday afternoon’s session.

Pagenaud’s 59.7864-second lap in the No. 1 DXC Technology Chevrolet was one of six under a minute and one-tenth of a second quicker than Scott Dixon’s pole-winning time from a year ago at Toronto.

Helio Castroneves swings through Turn 11 in Toronto practice
Helio Castroneves swings his No. 3 Chevrolet through Turn 11 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto. | Photo: Chris Owens / INDYCAR

Helio Castroneves, who topped Practice 1, ended Practice 3 with the second-fastest time behind the wheel of the No. 3 machine. The 59.8255-second lap was set on his ninth of 17 laps and superseded an earlier 59.8285-second lap, the first turned by any driver in the 59-second range.

Josef Newgarden put the DeVilbiss-liveried No. 2 Chevrolet third on the leaderboard with a 59.8828-second effort with Will Power just 0.0701 seconds further back in the fourth position in the No. 12 Verizon-themed machine.

Ryan Hunter-Reay narrowly edged out Graham Rahal on his final lap to earn the honor of being the fastest Honda-backed driver. The Andretti Autosport veteran’s 59.9765-second lap was 0.0079 seconds quicker than Rahal’s best.

Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz completed the top 10 with the group evenly split between Chevrolet and Honda.

Sato, Hildebrand Have Trouble in Practice 3

Takuma Sato apexes Turn 5 durint Toronto practice
Takuma Sato hammers the curbing at the apex of Turn 5 during Honda Indy Toronto practice. | Photo: Chris Jones / INDYCAR

The session experienced a brief red flag with 15 minutes remaining when Takuma Sato’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda stopped on track at Turn 3. He was quickly refired and practice resumed two minutes later.

Despite the issue for Sato, the 2017 Indianapolis 500 champion was quick with a 1:00.1777 representing his best time around the 1.786-mile, 11-turn street circuit.

While the incident didn’t bring out a red flag, JR Hildebrand made contact with the wall in Turn 10. The force of the impact caused left-side suspension damage to the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet forcing Hidlebrand to retire for the remainder of the session.

Due to his early retirement with only 11 laps turned, Hildebrand ended the session mired in 20th with a time of 1:01.1741.

Next up for the series is three rounds of knockout qualifying set to begin at 2:15 p.m. EDT ahead of Sunday’s morning warm-up and 85-lap race. The Honda Indy Toronto will go green at 3:47 p.m. with live television coverage on CNBC.

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