Herta wins pole at Laguna Seca; Palou qualifies fourth


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On his final flying lap of qualifying, Colton Herta grabbed the pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway. Championship leader Álex Palou qualified in fourth place, while rival contenders Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden missed the final phase of qualifying.

Herta set a lap time of 1’10.799 as the chequered flag came down on the Fast Six phase of qualifying, to take his third pole of the season. He won from pole in 2019, the last time IndyCar raced at the circuit – following the cancellation of the 2020 Grand Prix of Monterey due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects.

Andretti Autosport team mate Alexander Rossi qualified in second, to make it an all-Andretti front row. Will Power narrowly missed out on pole position in third, ahead of Palou in fourth. One of the great, positive surprises of the day was the form of Oliver Askew, who qualified fifth for his best grid spot of the season.

Patricio O’Ward, who is second in the championship table, spun off at the bottom of the Corkscrew during the Fast Six stage. For bringing out a local yellow flag, he lost a lap time which would have placed him fifth on the grid – he will now start sixth, behind Askew.

The first major upset in qualifying was during the first round, in Group One. Josef Newgarden, who led the first practice on Friday evening, was only ninth out of thirteen cars in his qualifying group – leaving him 17th on the grid. In the second round of qualifying, Ganassi team mates Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon ended up on the wrong end of the cut line, in seventh, and eighth, respectively. Of the 23 previous top-flight American open-wheel races held at Laguna Seca, only two have been won from a starting position lower than third.

Romain Grosjean narrowly missed out on a place in second round qualifying, and will start 13th. “I got caught up behind another car on my fast lap and that cost us some time,” he explained.

A communication problem between Rookie of the Year points leader Scott McLaughlin and his Team Penske pit wall also resulted in him missing the second round. McLaughlin will start 16th, after leading the second practice session earlier today. In his second start with the resuscitated Juncos Hollinger Racing, Callum Ilott qualified down in 26th.

Sunday’s 95-lap race at the historic Laguna Seca Raceway begins at 8:30 PM BST.

Qualifying results

126Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
227Alexander RossiAndrettiHonda
312Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
410Alex PalouGanassiHonda
545Oliver AskewRLLHonda
65Patricio O’WardMcLaren SPChevrolet
78Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
89Scott DixonGanassiHonda
922Simon PagenaudPenskeChevrolet
1059Max ChiltonCarlinChevrolet
1129James HinchcliffeAndretti SteinbrennerHonda
1215Graham RahalRLLHonda
1351Romain GrosjeanCoyne/RWRHonda
1418Ed JonesCoyne/VasserHonda
157Felix RosenqvistMcLaren SPChevrolet
163Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
172Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
1820Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
1928Ryan Hunter-ReayAndrettiHonda
2060Jack HarveyMeyer ShankHonda
2114Sebastien BourdaisFoytChevrolet
226Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2330Takuma SatoRLLHonda
2421Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
2548Jimmie JohnsonGanassiHonda
2677Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
274Dalton KellettFoytChevrolet

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RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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3 comments on “Herta wins pole at Laguna Seca; Palou qualifies fourth”

  1. I would love to see Laguna Seca host a Grand Prix, Bathurst would be anther one, my reasoning? If F1 can be raced at tiny narrow circuits like Monaco and Albert park, why not spend the money to have them race at these and other great tracks?

    1. Hugely expensive to adapt your circuit and host an event your government might decide to cancel on a whim. monaco doesn’t pay a large fee I think either like everyone else.

    2. It’s tough enough for Indy to pass around there, the F1 boats would never manage it! Well, except Grosjean if he returned and did 60 dive bombs at the corkscrew…!

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