Herta Takes Pole Again at Laguna Seca in Andretti Front Row Lockout

At WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca if you qualify well, you have a very strong chance of winning the race. Colton Herta knows that well after putting his car on pole in 2019 and did it again today, taking his second straight pole for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

At a track his father Bryan Herta made his name, this is Herta’s third pole of the season and seventh of his career. He is joined on the front row by his Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi, who will start on the front row for the second consecutive week.

Group one hit the track in the first round of qualifying including four of the top five drivers in the championship in Scott Dixon, Patricio O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson and Josef Newgarden, along with many other competitive drivers. Shockingly, Newgarden did not have the pace to advance while all of the other contenders made it into the second round. Herta went fastest with Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud also transferring. Newgarden will start seventeenth.

Alex Palou headlined group two along with Alexander Rossi, Will Power and second practice leader Scott McLaughlin. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Oliver Askew went fastest in the session, with Rossi second fastest and Max Chilton surprising the field with a third place finish. Palou narrowly escaped elimination finishing sixth, advancing with James Hinchcliffe and Power. Some fast cars were among those eliminated, including Ed Jones and McLaughlin.

In the second phase of qualifying, Herta once again topped the session like he did in group one. Palou advanced in third, and O’Ward left time on the table after a moment in turn four but was luckily able do still advance. Dixon, who is looking to keep pace in the championship hunt, was eliminated, and will start the race in eighth. Along with the championship leaders, Rossi, Power, and Askew all advanced to the fast six.

Oliver Askew qualified fifth for the Grand Prix of Monterey, his best qualifying effort of the season. (Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar)

In the Fast Six, Herta took the pole with the final lap of qualifying, stealing the top spot from Power and setting the pole. Power was then penalized for not slowing down under yellow flags for O’Ward, who hit the curb at the top of the corkscrew and spun into the gravel with only seconds remaining in the session. Power will start third behind the all-Andretti front row, alongside the championship leader Palou who starts fourth.

Askew put together a fantastic performance to start fifth, with the Florida native pitching his case to teams to get a full-time ride for next season by matching his career best starting spot. O’Ward had his fastest lap invalidated, pushing the Arrow McLaren SP driver down to sixth.

O’Ward will have pressure from Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammates right behind him as Ericsson and Dixon make up row four, starting seventh and eighth respectively.

Rounding out the top ten will be Pagenaud in ninth and Chilton in tenth, a fantastic effort for the Carlin team.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey takes place tomorrow, 19 September, at 1500 EST / 1200 PST / 2000 BST.

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Qualifying Results

1 26 Colton Herta USA Andretti Autosport 01:10.799 sec.
2 27 Alexander Rossi USA Andretti Autosport 01:10.995 sec.
3 12 Will Power AUS Team Penske 01:11.131 sec.
4 10 Alex Palou ESP Chip Ganassi Racing 01:11.331 sec.
5 45 Oliver Askew USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 01:11.893 sec.
6 5 Pato O’Ward MEX Arrow McLaren SP 01:24.271 sec.
7 8 Marcus Ericsson SWE Chip Ganassi Racing 01:11.258 sec.
8 9 Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi Racing 01:11.276 sec.
9 22 Simon Pagenaud FRA Team Penske 01:11.306 sec.
10 59 Max Chilton GBR Carlin 01:11.308 sec.
11 29 James Hinchcliffe CAN Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 01:11.456 sec.
12 15 Graham Rahal USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 01:12.593 sec.
13 51 Romain Grosjean (R) FRA Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing 01:11.530 sec.
14 18 Ed Jones UAE Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan 01:11.469 sec.
15 7 Felix Rosenqvist SWE Arrow McLaren SP 01:11.544 sec.
16 3 Scott McLaughlin (R) NZL Team Penske 01:11.576 sec.
17 2 Josef Newgarden USA Team Penske 01:11.550 sec.
18 20 Conor Daly USA Ed Carpenter Racing 01:11.592 sec.
19 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport 01:11.672 sec.
20 60 Jack Harvey GBR Meyer Shank Racing 01:11.668 sec.
21 14 Sebastien Bourdais FRA A.J. Foyt Enterprises 01:11.977 sec.
22 06 Helio Castroneves BRA Meyer Shank Racing 01:11.807 sec.
23 30 Takuma Sato JPN Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 01:12.144 sec.
24 21 Rinus VeeKay NED Ed Carpenter Racing 01:12.284 sec.
25 48 Jimmie Johnson (R) USA Chip Ganassi Racing 01:12.286 sec.
26 77 Callum Ilott (R) GBR Juncos Hollinger Racing 01:12.355 sec.
27 4 Dalton Kellett CAN A.J. Foyt Enterprises 01:12.605 sec.
(R) – Rookie