NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Colton Herta Wins IndyCar Pole At Laguna Seca

Colton Herta showed off his speed in qualifying and took pole position for IndyCar’s Firestone Grand Prix Of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 18). 

“The Gainbridge Honda car was awesome, it’s cool to have two for two poles here,” Herta, the 2019 winner of the race, said. “We’re not anywhere near the championship so we can be aggressive and try to win races. […] I’m hoping it’s a nice and easy race like it was in 2019.”

Meanwhile, the tight, 25-point championship battle between Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward saw some drama in qualifying.

During the fast 12, the top two in points had issues early in the session as Palou locked up his tire and nearly went off track, while O’Ward eventually did go off course after making the same mistake. Rahal spun out with 40 seconds left in the session, but no local yellow flew as he was able to get it going. Still, the session results went under review to see if he impeded another driver.

In the first group of the first round for the knockout qualifying session, several different names popped up to show their speed, such as Jimmie Johnson, who had top-five pace for a brief moment. Ultimately, former Grand Prix of Monterey winner Herta took the top time for group one along with other championship contenders Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson. Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal also advanced from the first group to the fast 12.

Josef Newgarden, who is in the top five in points, did not advance to the second round.

Oliver Askew was the fastest in the first round of the second group, putting his No. 45 Honda in the top spot, nudging out Alexander Rossi who seemed to have to have the fastest time locked up. Askew has been trying to show the IndyCar world why he belongs in the series and by posting the fastest time, he certainly made another case for himself.

Championship leader Palou was able to breathe a little better after posting a sixth-place time to advance to the second round of 12 cars. Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, and Max Chilton were also in the top six and were able to advance to the second round. 

Herta once again jumped to the top of the board in first to advance to the third round. Palou and O’Ward did recover from their mishaps from earlier in the session while Power, Askew and Rossi also joined them in the Fast 6. Chip Ganassi Racing teammates and title contenders Ericsson and Dixon did not advance to the top six in the final round.  

The Fast 6 had each driver fighting for every tenth. O’Ward brought out a local yellow as he took a spin for the second time of the day. Herta in the end took the pole position as Rossi grabbed the other spot on the front row. Power and Palou took the second row as Askew and O’Ward sit fifth and sixth respectively. 

Firestone Grand Prix Of Monterey Starting Grid:

  1. Colton Herta
  2. Alexander Rossi
  3. Will Power
  4. Alex Palou
  5. Oliver Askew
  6. Pato O’Ward
  7. Marcus Ericsson
  8. Scott Dixon
  9. Simon Pagenaud
  10. Max Chilton
  11. James Hinchcliffe
  12. Graham Rahal
  13. Romain Grosjean (R)
  14. Ed Jones
  15. Felix Rosenqvist
  16. Scott McLaughlin (R)
  17. Josef Newgarden
  18. Conor Daly
  19. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  20. Jack. Harvey
  21. Sebastien Bourdais
  22. Helio Castroneves
  23. Takuma Sato
  24. Rinus Veekay
  25. Jimmie Johnson (R)
  26. Callum Ilott (R)
  27. Dalton Kellett

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