LEXINGTON, Ohio -- There's a interesting mix of the top five on the Practice 3 time sheet for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was quickest in the 45-minute session with a lap of 1 minute, 5.7082 seconds in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport car. He earned the Verizon P1 Award for the race last August and finished fifth. Sitting third in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings with four races left, a victory Aug. 3 on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course would greatly help the 2012 series champion's title pursuit.
Second on the time sheet was Scott Dixon at 1:05.8042 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry. The reigning series champion has won four of the past seven races at Mid-Ohio, and is seeking to give the Ganassi group its first victory of the season.
Justin Wilson (1:05.8159) in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing car also is seeking his initial victory of the season and at Mid-Ohio, while teammates Simon Pagenaud (1:05.9164) and Mikhail Aleshin (1:05.9424) were within three-tenths of a second of the top. Pagenaud, the race runner-up to Charlie Kimball last year, is fourth in the standings. Aleshin, driving the No. 7 SMP Racing car, has adapted quickly in his first visit to Mid-Ohio.
"We were quick at the (20-car test July 24), we were quick yesterday and we're quick this morning so hopefully we can translate that into what we need when it counts," Wilson said. "That's the key is doing it when it counts. So we'll see what we can do. It's very close right now with the times and one small mistake can catch you out in qualifying."
Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader Helio Castroneves was 15th in the session, while Team Penske teammate Will Power, who enters qualifying 13 points back, was 11th-quick.
The top 21 cars were separated by six-tenths of a second.
Click it: Combined practice results || Qualifying groups
Three rounds of qualifications, highlighted by the Firestone Fast Six to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner, commence at 2 p.m. (ET). Watch it live on IndyCar.com in conjunction with real-time Timing & Scoring and the IMS Radio Network broadcast with Paul Page. NBCSN will telecast qualifications at 5:30 p.m. (ET). There have been 10 different Verizon P1 Award winners through the 14 races.
Rain began falling at 12:15 p.m. and was forecast to continue through qualifying. Hunter-Reay earned the pole in 2013 with a lap of 1:05.3519. The track record of 1:05.347 is shared by Dario Franchitti (1999) and Gil de Ferran (2000).
Hunter-Reay was quickest overall (1:06.5316) through two practice sessions Aug. 1. He has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in eight starts at Mid-Ohio but is in search of his first victory.
“Coming down to the final race and a championship on the line, we need to win," said Hunter-Reay, who has a series-high three victories this season. "It’s amazing to think that we’ve won three races and Helio (Castroneves) has won one, but he’s that far out in the lead in points. But that’s the way the points system is right now, we need to win races because we are in the position we are. But it’s doable still and we’ll keep at it.”
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