MONTEREY, Calif. -- In anticipation of what figures to be the most important NTT IndyCar Series qualifying session of the season, the leaders of the two trophy pursuits were 1-2 in the final practice at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Chip Ganassi Racing's Felix Rosenqvist, the leader in pursuit of the Rookie of the Year title, was quickest overall at 1 minute, 10.4065 seconds. He was about two-tenths of a second quicker than overall points leader Josef Newgarden of Team Penske, who is chasing his second career INDYCAR championship. His first title came in 2017. Newgarden's quickest lap was 1:10.5888.
CLICK IT: Practice 3 | Combined Results
As for the rest of the championship contenders, Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud was fourth at 1:10.6122 as he chases his second season crown -- the other came in 2016.
Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, a five-time and reigning series champion, was eighth at 1:10.8203. Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi was 10th at 1:10.8738.
Newgarden leads Rossi by 41 points, Pagenaud by 42. Dixon is 85 points in arrears.
Rosenqvist, Dale Coyne Racing's Santino Ferrucci (15th in this practice session) and Harding Steinbrenner Racing's Colton Herta (seventh) are locked in a fierce battle for the rookie title.
The three rounds of knockout qualifying, capped by the Firestone Fast Six, is today at 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. PT) live on NBCSN. Winning the NTT P1 Award is worth a point, which could be instrumental in deciding the series champion. At a minimum, drivers will be looking to maximize their chances for a strong finish in Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterey as passing on this 11-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course could be challenging.
Sunday's 90-lap race will be televised live on NBC beginning with the pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT) with the green flag scheduled for 3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m. PT). The race also will be broadcast on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM 205, Sirius 98).