Herta nabs Laguna Seca pole, Power pegged back

Colton Herta will start on pole position at Laguna Seca. Picture: James Black

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta has edged out team-mate Alexander Rossi for pole position at the Grand Prix of Monterey in an eventful qualifying session.

Herta set a 1:10.7994s at the death to snatch top spot away from Team Penske’s Will Power, who initially ended the session in second.

However, the 2014 IndyCar Series winner was demoted to third after setting his fastest lap under yellow flag conditions when McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward spun.

That promoted Rossi to second, a 1:10.9951s putting him 0.1957s shy of the quickest time.

It’s the second time Herta will start the Grand Prix of Monterey from the top spot, the 21-year-old converting pole position to victory last time out in 2019.

“I’m glad we ended up doing three [laps] because I guess two wasn’t enough,” Herta explained.

“I really got to nail that third lap and beat Power to the pole, so that was really cool.

“I know Mario [Andretti] was sitting on the pit stand. I’m sure he’s really happy about me taking pole away from Power.

“What an amazing track. I love this place so much. It’s awesome to have two from two for pole positions here.”

IndyCar Series points leader Alex Palou ended the session in fourth, leading the charge for Chip Ganassi Racing on a 1:11.3317s.

The Spaniard looked ragged at times, his best lap a little over half a second away from the top time by Herta.

Oliver Askew was the standout of the session, making it through to the final leg of qualifying for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in only his third start this season.

Last in the Fast Six was O’Ward, who made a mistake at the Corkscrew and was stripped of his best lap for bringing out the yellow flag.

While Palou made it through to the final stage of qualifying, the same could not be said for his team-mates Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon who will line up seventh and eighth respectively.

Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) and Max Chilton (Carlin) rounded out the top 10 having failed to make it out of the second round along with 11th placed James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) and Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) in 12th.

Notably, Josef Newgarden was knocked out of the first group stage, meaning he’ll start a lowly 17th just behind Team Penske stable-mate Scott McLaughlin in 16th.

Earlier in the day, McLaughlin topped the second practice session after setting a time late in the piece on the red sidewall soft compound tyre.

A miscommunication in the second round meant McLaughlin pitted one lap too early when he could have pushed on for another lap.

Fellow Rookie of the Year title chaser Romain Grosjean will start 13th for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing.

The Grand Prix of Monterey will get underway tomorrow at 05:00 (AEST).

Results: IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Monterey, Qualifying

Pos Num Name Time Session
1 26 Colton Herta 01:10.7994 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2 27 Alexander Rossi 01:10.9951 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3 12 Will Power 01:11.1317 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4 10 Alex Palou 01:11.3317 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5 45 Oliver Askew 01:11.8937 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
6 5 Pato O’Ward 01:24.2715 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7 8 Marcus Ericsson 01:11.2581 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 9 Scott Dixon 01:11.2768 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 22 Simon Pagenaud 01:11.3067 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 59 Max Chilton 01:11.3088 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 29 James Hinchcliffe 01:11.4567 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 15 Graham Rahal 01:12.5932 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 51 Romain Grosjean (R) 01:11.5303 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 18 Ed Jones 01:11.4692 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 7 Felix Rosenqvist 01:11.5446 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 3 Scott McLaughlin (R) 01:11.5767 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 2 Josef Newgarden 01:11.5503 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 20 Conor Daly 01:11.5921 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 01:11.6721 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 60 Jack Harvey 01:11.6689 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 14 Sebastien Bourdais 01:11.9776 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
22 6 Helio Castroneves 01:11.8071 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
23 30 Takuma Sato 01:12.1443 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
24 21 Rinus VeeKay 01:12.2843 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
25 48 Jimmie Johnson (R) 01:12.2865 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
26 77 Callum Ilott (R) 01:12.3558 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
27 4 Dalton Kellett 01:12.6055 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]