Colton Herta Sets New Track Record for Pole at Long Beach Grand Prix

3 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Chris Jones / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Colton Herta dominated qualifying for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, winning the pole position with a new track record time of 1:05.309, nine tenths of a second faster than the previous record.

Herta won every segment of qualifying that he was a part of, each time breaking the provisional track record in a dazzling display of speed.

“As a young kid I always dreamed of becoming an IndyCar driver, and that’s because of this race,” Herta said at the end of the session.

“To get the win last year was amazing, and we checked another box off today with the pole. It feels incredible.”

Six of the fastest cars this weekend were in Group One, and Herta topped the group followed by Alexander Rossi, Felix Rosenqvist, Scott McLaughlin and rookie Kyle Kirkwood. Graham Rahal looked like he was going to make it, but missed out by one tenth of a second to Marcus Ericsson. Rahal was impeded by Jimmie Johnson, who received a penalty for being in the way.

Group Two saw Romain Grosjean match his teammate at the top of their respective groups, with Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward advancing. O’Ward struggled greatly in the practice sessions, and making the fast twelve was a huge boost for not just the young Mexican, but Arrow McLaren SP as a whole with both cars advancing. Power’s last lap bumped Helio Castroneves, who holds the record for pole positions at Long Beach, out of the top six. He will start fourteenth. Scott Dixon was not happy with his performance, eliminated from the group and starting sixteenth.

Herta once again led the fast twelve, followed by his teammate Rossi, Rosenqvist, Grosjean, Newgarden and Palou. After a moment of deliberation for possible incidents between Power and Grosjean and McLaughlin and Ericsson, no further action was taken and the fast six was set.

Drama came late in the fast six, as Grosjean slapped the wall in turn four and went head-on into the turn five barrier. The red flag was thrown with two seconds left in the session, and many drivers thought that would mark the end of the session and had gotten out of their cars. IndyCar announced after the crash that one more lap of racing would be allowed, since the rulebook states that six minutes of running in the third segment of qualifying is guaranteed. Rosenqvist and Rossi were the only takers on this offer, and both failed to improve on their times.

Grosjean was set to start on the outside of the front row before his crash, but now it will be Newgarden sitting alongside the polesitter Herta. Palou will start third alongside Rosenqvist, who is starting in the top five for the second week in a row, in fourth. Fifth will go to Rossi, who already looks like his old self this weekend at his home track, alongside Grosjean in sixth.

Power and Ericsson find themselves on row four, starting seventh and eighth respectively, with McLaughlin and Pagenaud rounding out the top ten.

Kirkwood, as he’s been all weekend, was the fastest of the rookies, advancing into the fast twelve and starting twelfth. The next highest-finishing rookie would have been Devlin DeFrancesco, but he will be serving a six-position grid penalty for the incidents he was involved in during the Xpel 375 at Texas Motor Speedway. Instead, David Malukas is the second best rookie qualifier starting eighteenth, just ahead of Christian Lundgaard in nineteenth.

Callum Ilott will start twenty-first, while DeFrancesco will be knocked to twenty-third because of the penalty. Tatiana Calderon rounds out the rookie field, starting twenty-sixth.

The grid is set for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, with the green flag set to drop tomorrow at 1200 PT / 1500 ET / 1900 GMT.

Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – Qualifying Results

126Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:05.3095 (TR)
22Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:05.7550
310Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:05.8667
47Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP01:05.9349
527Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:06.0674
628Romain GrosjeanFRAAndretti AutosportNo Time
712Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:05.8745
88Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:05.9548
93Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske01:06.0507
1060Simon PagenaudFRAMeyer Shank Racing01:06.0678
115Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:06.0726
1214Kyle Kirkwood (R)USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:06.2604
1315Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:06.6896
1406Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing01:06.2467
1521Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:06.7049
169Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:06.3241
1720Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:06.4489
1818David Malukas (R)USADale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports01:06.7925
1930Christian Lundgaard (R)DENRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:06.5049
2045Jack HarveyGBRRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:06.9708
2177Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger Racing01:06.6672
2251Takuma SatoJPNDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:07.1001
2329Devlin DeFrancesco (R)CANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport01:06.7418*
244Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:06.7679
2548Jimmie JohnsonUSAChip Ganassi Racing01:09.0287
2611Tatiana Calderon (R)COLA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:07.4789
(R) = Rookie, (TR) = Track Record, * = Serving six place grid penalty
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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