Race Weekend Central

Colton Herta on Pole in ‘Intense’ Toronto Qualifying

Fresh off a Formula 1 test, and despite interference from slower cars in two rounds of three, Saturday (July 16) on the Exhibition Place street circuit in Toronto, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta became only the first two-time pole winner in 10 races of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season.

On even Firestone red tires in the closing seconds of the Fast Six, it was Herta who put down a faster lap than fellow 2022 polesitters Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi to score the top starting spot for the Honda Indy Toronto, and the ninth pole of his NTT IndyCar Series career. 

“That was an intense session,” Herta told NBC Sports after climbing from his Gainbridge Honda. “We hadn’t really found the time until right at the end … I was really happy with that lap. It all kind of came together.”

“The first lap I messed up, trying to judge some traffic and had to back off,” Dixon said, after coming up just short of a first road-course pole since 2016. “Then I overattacked [turn] six, picked up some understeer and kind of lost a tenth and a half. … All in all, a great weekend for Chip Ganassi Racing, I think all the cars are fast.” 

An incident-free first group sent points leader Marcus Ericsson through to the Fast Twelve along with Dixon, Rossi, Callum Ilott, David Malukas and Scott McLaughlin.

The biggest name eliminated was Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who will take the green flag from 15th after brushing a concrete wall on his fastest lap, continuing a theme of difficult weekend.

O’Ward shrugged off the idea that contact with the wall ultimately did his qualifying session in. “I haven’t had the speed all weekend. …  I don’t have another answer for you,” O’Ward told NBC. We haven’t gotten better. I go any quicker and I’m bouncing off the walls … we don’t have it right now.”

Group two saw fireworks almost immediately. Herta, who set the fastest time in the morning’s second practice, was impeded by Conor Daly. Daly was assigned a penalty, losing his best two lap times and failing to advance. 

Moments after jumping to P1, Andretti Autosport rookie Devlin DeFranceso locked up his Firestone alternate tires and slid into the tire barrier at turn three. The Canadian driver was able to keep the No. 29 Honda running, facing no penalty. 

Moments later, Alex Palou’s NTT Data No. 10 ground to a halt on the back straight with a mechanical failure. The defending champion, whose off-season contract saga stole the headlines during the week, will start from the back of the field on Sunday. 

 

The brief red flag set up a lap time battle in the closing seconds. While most drivers ran slower on cold tires, Colton Herta, Kyle Kirkwood, and Will Power were up on their previous lap times. Herta went fastest, knocking his Andretti Autosport teammate off P1. 

Kyle Kirkwood bounced his AJ Foyt Racing No. 14 off of a concrete wall in turn six, but kept his foot in it. Unfortunately for the American, the damaged toe link failed in turn eight, sending him spinning across the qualifying line and bringing out a red flag. The red flag ruined Will Power’s fast lap, forcing one of IndyCar’s best qualifiers to start down in 16th place.

 

Advancing from group two were Herta, DeFrancesco, Newgarden, Romain Grosjean, Felix Rosenqvist and Christian Lundgaard.

 

DeFrancesco’s dream qualifying came to a close in the Fast Twelve, after a lockup into turn one forced the Canadian to take an escape road, where he promptly became the second driver to get a penalty for impeding Herta. DeFrancesco will start 12th, the best starting position of his young career. 

By the end of the penultimate session the top eight were separated by just over three tenths of a second, but it was  Rossi leading the pack into the Fast Six, followed by Newgarden, Malukas, Dixon, Herta, and McLaughlin.

In the end, it was a straightforward final session that saw Herta take the NTT P1 award: no yellows, no reds, just the IndyCar Series’ fastest drivers. Herta bested Dixon by just over nine-hundredths of a second.

2022 Honda Indy Toronto Starting Lineup

  1. Colton Herta
  2. Scott Dixon
  3. Josef Newgarden
  4. Alexander Rossi
  5. David Malukas
  6. Scott McLaughlin
  7. Callum Ilott
  8. Felix Rosenqvist
  9. Marcus Ericsson
  10. Christian Lundgaard
  11. Romain Grosjean
  12. Devlin DeFrancesco
  13. Jack Harvey
  14. Graham Rahal
  15. Pato O’Ward
  16. Will Power
  17. Helio Castroneves
  18. Simon Pagenaud
  19. Takuma Sato
  20. Kyle Kirkwood
  21. Jimmie Johnson
  22. Rinus Veekay
  23. Dalton Kellett
  24. Alex Palou
  25. Conor Daly

The Honda Indy Toronto airs Sunday July 17 at 3 p.m. ET exclusively on Peacock with limited commercial interruptions.

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