Dixon leads St. Petersburg warmup; Hunter-Reay finds tire barrier

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – Just as in two of the previous three practice sessions of the weekend, Scott Dixon (No. 9 GE LED Lighting Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) paced this morning's final practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with a fast lap of 1 minute, 1.9292 seconds (104.636 mph).

Dixon was followed by three-time St. Pete race winner Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 1:02.5026), defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet, 1:02.5051), Ed Carpenter Racing sophomore Spencer Pigot (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, 1:02.6087), and Graham Rahal (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, 1:02.6570).

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Warmup results; Combined practice results; Starting lineup

Pole sitter Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) finished the session 13th quick, with a fast lap of 1:03.1619 (102.593 mph)

The red flag flew just before the midway point of the session when Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda slammed into the Turn 10 tire barrier. Hunter-Reay walked away, but the No. 28 car suffered heavy front-end damage.

“Thank the Lord that wall had three rows of tires on (the barrier),” said the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, “because we needed every bit of it. It was just a brake failure, the brake (pedal) sort of went to the floor as soon as I hit it, so it looks like the rear brakes failed for some reason. The fronts engaged, but that’s not going to do anything to stop the car, it was just a brake lock all the way in. One of the scarier feelings in a race car, I can tell you that.”

The first race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series is within reach. Live coverage of the 110-lap Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the 1.8-mile temporary street course begins at noon ET on ABC and the same time on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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