Herta holds on for first pole of the season in tricky Road America qualifying


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Colton Herta secured his first pole position of the IndyCar season as the new track surface at Road America made for a tricky qualifying session.

The Andretti driver’s best time of a 1’40.194 was enough for him to take his first pole since last year’s race at Toronto and the 10th of his IndyCar career. Pato O’Ward will start alongside Herta on the front row for McLaren, with Palou third on the grid after recovering from his heavy crash in the early practice session.

The freshly re-laid track surface of the Elkhart Lake track offered drivers immense grip around the 6.4 kilometre road course, with lap speeds at their highest level since ChampCar raced around the circuit in 2000 and Dario Franchitti established the overall course record.

Herta came close to beating it, but was just a mile an hour short of that mark, knocking almost three tenths of a second off Palou’s provisional pole time before O’Ward moved into second.

As the chequered flag flew at the end of the Fast Six session, Indianapolis 500 champion Josef Newgarden lost control of his Penske and spun. He was classified fourth ahead of McLaren’s Alexander Rossi, and it remains to be seen whether he will face a sanction for triggering the yellow flags.

Kyle Kirkwood was sixth, but was left to rue what might have been having been third at the end of the previous phase. After the chequered flag fell in the second session he pulled off the circuit with an apparent blown engine, preventing him from taking part in the final shootout and guaranteeing him sixth on the grid.

Christian Lundgaard narrowly missed out on a place in the Fast Six and will start seventh, while Marcus Armstrong secured his best grid slot of his IndyCar career with eighth place ahead of Marcus Ericsson. Benjamin Pedersen, another rookie enjoying a strong Saturday, completed the top ten starting places.

After their Saturday morning practice crash, Will Power and Scott Dixon’s Saturdays got worse as both failed to make it through their first sessions of qualifying. Power had a bumpy, high-speed ride after running out of road on the exit of the Carousel and was eliminated in 22nd place, while Dixon also had a spin, on the exit of turn three, costing him a place in the second stage. Dixon will start Sunday’s race from 23rd.

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Romain Grosjean also endured a frustrating session, the Andretti driver eliminated in the first phase. He suffered a spin at the final corner after running wide, then ran off the circuit at the fast right-hander of turn one on his final push lap of the session. He will start down in 19th.

On his return to full-time IndyCar racing as a replacement for Conor Daly, Ryan Hunter-Reay will start last on the grid as a result of spinning out of the final corner and crashing his Ed Carpenter Racing car.

Grand Prix at Road America qualifying results

126Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
25Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
310Alex PalouGanassiHonda
42Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
57Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
627Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
745Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
811Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
98Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
1055Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
1114Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
1229Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
1318David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
1415Graham RahalRLLHonda
1521Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
166Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
1777Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
183Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
1928Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
2060Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
2178Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2212Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
239Scott DixonGanassiHonda
2430Jack HarveyRLLHonda
2551Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
2606Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2720Ryan Hunter-ReayCarpenterChevrolet

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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