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Simon Pagenaud fastest in final St Pete free practice

Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt-Hamilton, St Pete 2012Simon Pagenaud has set the quickest time in today's third IndyCar free practice session at St Petersburg.

Penske duo Will Power and Ryan Briscoe had looked safe at the top of the timing screens with the only sub-1m02s laps in the field until Pagenaud, who was issued a 10-place grid penalty last night for an unauthorised engine change, produced a 1m01.8929s effort with just five minutes left on the clock.

That was enough for the Schmidt-Hamilton rookie to best Power's time by a scant 0.04s, with Briscoe holding an equally small deficit to his team-mate.

Reigning champion Dario Franchitti was just behind them; the top four being covered by 0.1s.

Mike Conway was responsible for the only brief red flag period when his AJ Foyt car stopped at the side of the track after 20 minutes - just moments after he'd set the fastest time of the day up to that point - but he was able to rejoin as soon as the session restarted, and finished up fifth-fastest.

Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon were sixth and seventh-quickest; both drivers having held the fastest times earlier in the session, with Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves completing the top 10.

Rubens Barrichello again failed to trouble the frontrunners, although he made a significant gain relative to the outright pace compared with yesterday. He finished up with the 20th-fastest time, 0.9s off Pagenaud's mark.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car/Engine            Time        Gap
 1.  Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt DW12-Honda         1m01.8929s		       
 2.  Will Power           Penske DW12-Chevrolet      1m01.9395s	+ 0.0466s
 3.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske DW12-Chevrolet      1m01.9428s	+ 0.0499s
 4.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi DW12-Honda         1m02.0046s	+ 0.1117s
 5.  Mike Conway          Foyt DW12-Honda            1m02.0150s	+ 0.1221s
 6.  Graham Rahal         Ganassi DW12-Honda         1m02.0222s	+ 0.1293s
 7.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi DW12-Honda         1m02.0561s	+ 0.1632s
 8.  Josef Newgarden      Fisher DW12-Honda          1m02.1342s	+ 0.2413s
 9.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti DW12-Chevrolet    1m02.1547s	+ 0.2618s
10.  Helio Castroneves    Penske DW12-Chevrolet      1m02.1563s	+ 0.2634s
11.  EJ Viso              KV DW12-Chevrolet          1m02.2310s	+ 0.3381s
12.  Tony Kanaan          KV DW12-Chevrolet          1m02.3279s	+ 0.4350s
13.  JR Hildebrand        Panther DW12-Chevrolet     1m02.3678s	+ 0.4749s
14.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti DW12-Chevrolet    1m02.4455s	+ 0.5526s
15.  James Jakes          Coyne DW12-Honda           1m02.4648s	+ 0.5719s
16.  Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon DW12-Lotus          1m02.4774s	+ 0.5845s
17.  Marco Andretti       Andretti DW12-Chevrolet    1m02.5191s	+ 0.6262s
18.  Justin Wilson        Coyne DW12-Honda           1m02.6131s	+ 0.7202s
19.  Takuma Sato          Rahal DW12-Honda           1m02.6939s	+ 0.8010s
20.  Rubens Barrichello   KV DW12-Chevrolet          1m02.7945s	+ 0.9016s
21.  Oriol Servia         Dreyer Reinbold DW12-Lotus 1m02.8365s	+ 0.9436s
22.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi DW12-Honda         1m02.9398s	+ 1.0469s
23.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM DW12-Lotus             1m02.9640s	+ 1.0711s
24.  Alex Tagliani        BHA DW12-Lotus             1m03.3503s	+ 1.4574s
25.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter DW12-Chevrolet   1m03.4051s	+ 1.5122s
26.  Katherine Legge      Dragon DW12-Lotus          1m03.7094s	+ 1.8165s
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Fisher thrilled with Newgarden
Barrichello content with debut
Dixon admits Castroneves too quick
Castroneves: Win a vital boost
Castroneves ends victory drought
Conway heads damp warm-up
Power leads all-Penske front row
Pagenaud given grid penalty
Barrichello hopes for improvements
Power ahead in second practice
Dixon heads St Petersburg practice