Sato paces third Toronto practice

Image by Scott LePage/LAT

Sato paces third Toronto practice

IndyCar

Sato paces third Toronto practice

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Honda continued to hold the advantage in the third practice session for the Honda Indy Toronto, but this time only with P1 as Chevy runners were right back in the mix at the front.

After Scott Dixon led both of yesterday’s practices, Takuma Sato set the pace in the final session before qualifying with a lap of 58.6777 seconds in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry. Although no red tires were used, Sato reset the unofficial track record on the harder compound blacks.

“Really happy wih the balance of the car,” reported Sato, “but the field is very tight. I was just fortunate to be able to get a clear lap. The [resurfaced] track is just so much better, so much grippier. This afternoon with the red tires it should be even better.”

Chevy’s Team Penske cars of Josef Newgarden and Will Power were right on Sato’s heels in second and third, Newgarden with a 58.7750s and Power on a 58.8758s. Alexander Rossi, who led much of the session after posting an early 58.8997s with his NAPA Honda, slipped back to fourth by the end but was still confident he’d be in the mix in the battle for pole this afternoon.

“The car’s really good and we only used one set of tires,” noted Rossi, who also praised the improvements made to the surface for this year’s race on the Exhibition Place street course. “I love this track! After they repaved the front straight, it went from my least favorite to one of my favorites.”

Spencer Pigot continued his run of strong form by setting the fifth-fastest time in Ed Carpenter Racing’s Chevy at 58.9529s, while yesterday’s pacesetter Dixon rounded out the top six at 58.9569s in the PNC Bank Honda.

Other than a few minor wall brushes it was a clean session until the final minute, when Robert Wickens caught the tires in Turn 8 after a slight lock-up and Newgarden then spun independently into the same corner, narrowly missing the SPM car. Neither car appeared to suffer much damage.

UP NEXT: Qualifying at 2 p.m. Eastern.

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